“And they hear the sound of Jehovah God walking up and down in the garden at the breeze of the day.”
Genesis 3:8a (Young’s Literal Translation)
There were ten dearly beloveds gathered together in the living room that wintry night. Outside, a snowstorm would dump about four inches of snow overnight, and we’d spend extra time shoveling out our vehicles late the next morning. But for now, all we knew was warmth. Chicken tikka filled our bellies, house shoes, leggings and sweaters warmed our bodies, and the love of sisterhood warmed our hearts.
We gathered to celebrate two young ladies in our church, my daughter and a friend, both days away from turning twelve. The godly women seated on the couches, chairs and floor in this room had cheered these young girls on for years. As toddlers, they’d held them in their arms, grinned at their performances in vacation Bible school and church Christmas programs, eaten meals alongside them, prayed for them.
That last part feels like the grandest gift. To have a group of women who had prayed for the spiritual formation of my daughter. This included prayers that she would fall in love with God’s word, but also that her friendship troubles would go away. That she’d fit in at youth group, and practice being kind at school.
Our church doesn’t offer confirmation or catechism classes, but I wanted to host something of significance as these girls took more responsibility for their faith development. This would be an evening they could look back on, remembering these women who loved and supported them. Church women, instrumental in my own life as well, had gathered to offer these young girls words of advice and affirmation.
One by one, we went around the room sharing a piece of our own story, coupled with advice. It was Beth’s turn. I knew a lot of her story: Born and raised in the church with godly parents and a supportive community, she had learned about Jesus and his gospel message at a young age. Beth and I had attended Bible study together for years and she was a strong Christian woman.
“I began seeing a therapist recently,” she said. “I needed to better understand a few things in my personal life. One of the things my counselor and I worked through is something I feel like I’m just now realizing. I wish I’d known it at your age—I’ve always known God loves me, but he also likes me. He wants to spend time with me, to hang out.”
Silence, followed by the nodding of heads.
Glimpses of the earliest of days when Adam and Eve spent time with God in the garden of Eden.
"May we teach them this fundamental truth as well: made in the image of God, he thoroughly enjoys them."
What a profound truth to offer our daughters. From the time they are babies, we feel a deep obligation to teach them in the way they should go. We want to instill in them the importance of spending time in God’s word and being active in a local church. We intentionally seek out families and friends who can be godly examples to them.
May we teach them this fundamental truth as well: made in the image of God, he thoroughly enjoys them.
My daughter likes art, and I picture God peering over her shoulder, looking at how she’s progressing in drawing hands. When she goes outside to call for her kitten, I imagine God being pleased at how much she loves the animals he created. In her room, when she’s curled up with a good book, I envision God seated beside her in spirit.
It was a message that resounded throughout the entire living room, grabbing the attention of not just our daughters but the women as well. God doesn’t just love you, he likes you.
A cause for celebration. We are wonderfully made. King David knew it: “Your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Psalm 139:14 NIV).
May we know it too.
Traci Rhoades is a writer and Bible teacher. She lives in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area with her family. Connect with her online at tracesoffaith.com or @tracesoffaith on twitter. She is the author of Not All Who Wander (Spiritually) Are Lost.