This morning I read these words in Psalm 131: ‘I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me’.
It got me to thinking – what is a weaned child like? What images does that phrase evoke for you?
For me, a weaned child evokes first and foremost an image of nurture. The child has got exactly what it wanted – its nurture – from its mother. If you have seen a hungry baby being put to its mother breast, you will recall how desperately the baby looks for the breast and will not be distracted by anything else. He/she is totally focussed on getting what he/she wants – and nothing else will do. How does that compare to my relationship with God? He ha promised to provide all the nurture I need (‘Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’) and yet how often I am distracted by other things. It’s not necessarily that I want them instead of God – but I want them as well as God. I am not totally focussed in my pursuit of God. I am distracted by the cares and preoccupations of daily life, I am absorbed in my work, I focus a lot of energy and attention on the people in my life – all good things, but they should not distract me from the greatest goal of my life – ‘to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever’.
The second image I see when I think of a weaned child of one of satisfaction. Note that we are not talking about a nursing child – but a weaned child – one who has got what he/she wanted and is satisfied. The picture of a baby who has fallen asleep at its mother’s breast is one of satisfaction. What about me? Am I satisfied in God – or do I still run after other things which can never satisfy? When I ‘must have’ something, that something has taken the place of God in my life.
Coming out of the image of satisfaction is one of rest. Unlike us adults, a baby will often fall asleep after it has fed! He/she is satisfied, all his/her needs have been met – so he/she falls asleep. How often do I worry and strive after all the things which preoccupy me, when all I need do is rest – rest in the arms of the Lord who loves me and who ‘has promised to supply all my needs, according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus’. He is the same one who says ‘Come to me, all you who labour and are heavy-laden and I will give you rest’. What many of us are yearning for – though we do not realize it in the midst of our busyness and restlessness – is that rest.
Associated closely with the concept of rest is one of trust. The baby can fall asleep in its mother’s arms because it trusts her implicitly. Who could imagine a baby lying in its mother’s arms, worrying about what will happen when it grows up – will its parents continue to provide for it? which school will it go to? which career will it choose? what about a spouse? No, the baby has all it needs for this moment, this day, and it falls asleep contentedly in its mother’s arms. God has promised me ‘all I need for life and godliness’ – all I need to live the Christian life – and yet how prone I am to worry and fret about the ‘what ifs’.
God, give me the grace to quieten myself like a weaned child with its mother – knowing Your nurture and the satisfaction, trust and rest which comes from being Your child.