Once my grandmother told me that the older your children get, the bigger their problems, but they are still your children. I laughed. It seemed foolishness to me - but I was just a kid. Surely you need your parents more when you are a baby than when you are 25 or 35 or 55. At least that is what I thought until I became a parent.
Your children are always your children. That is what my grandmother was telling me. As long as she lived, my mother was her daughter. She loved her, prayed for her, and cared for her just as much when this girl married and had her own children as she did when she was but a little girl growing up on the farm. You feel for them in their problems, you cry with them in their sorrows, you laugh with them in their joys, you worry with them in their uncertainties... It is a relationship which never ends.
Now I have three adult, gulp, adult children. They make their own decisions but they call on me for help, advice, and ideas. They are making their own place in the world. They are accepting responsibility. They are not mirror images of me or their mother. They do not always think or act or speak like me or my wife. But the days of baby sitters or curfews are long gone.
Yet they are still my children. The older they get, the bigger the choices before them and the problems life (and sometimes they) dump on their doorsteps. I will always love them as my children. I hurt when they hurt. I cry when they cry. I laugh when they laugh. I worry with them when they are anxious.
Whether you are a good parent or a not so good parent, a good child or a not so good child, through this relationship we learn to understand what it means when John reminds us that we are God's children -- that is exactly what we are. And when Jesus invites us to pray saying "Our Father." And what Luther meant when he wrote, "God would by these words tenderly invite us to believe that He is our dear father and we are His dear children."
We are His children. Just as we are wounded for our kids, He bears our wounds. He hurts when we hurt. He laughs when we laugh. He knows our fears as well as we know them. This is not simply an image of how God is toward us, God is our Father. We are His children.
The great dimension of His love for us is revealed in such a simple statement. We are God's child and God is our Father. It is this Fatherly love that was not content with sin's distance or death and which moved the heart of the Father to send His Son/ It is this great love which moved the Son to willingly embrace all our weakness and sin so that once again we might be known as God's own children.
I have adult children and yet sometimes the most secure I feel in life is when I talk to my parents about what is going on, about the problems I am facing, asking their wisdom, inviting their prayers... It is not that God's relationship is a bigger form of this relationship... but that our earthly relationship is a shadow of God's relationship to us...
I am long past the days of living at home with my parents but one of the great comforts of my life is knowing that I will always be their children... The gift of this adopted relationship into God's family which is accomplished in Christ Jesus gives me the same assurance of love, security, and peace. The greatest comfort of my life lies in knowing that by baptism and faith I will always be God's child. This is what grace is meant to feel like...