There is a story about a young girl who lost her path in life and wandered away from God, her family and the loving home she grew up in. Not long after that her life started spiraling out of control, pulling her deep into dark waters of depression and sadness. One night, overtaken by the inner turmoil of her soul, she decided that she has no more strength and reason to keep fighting for and needed to end her life. But she had one last desire. She wanted to glimpse into her family home, where she was born and spent her childhood. It was late and dark when she got there. To her surprise, the front door was wide open. She worried. Did something happen to her old mother? She went inside and called out to her. Hearing the voice of her beloved child, the old mother immediately came out of her room as if she was expecting and waiting for her. She embraced her child and welcomed her. And when the girl asked her mom about the open front door, she learned that it was never closed since the day she left. Her mother always left it open, so if her child ever happened to pass by, she would know that she is missed and welcomed back.
It might appear that the Bible emphasizes the fatherhood of God. But we can never quite capture and comprehend his true essence unless we consider that there is also a “motherhood” side to God’s nature and love for us. God is compassionate towards his children. He comforts, nurtures, and cares for them like a mother. This is the imagery we find in the book of the prophet Isaiah.
But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me;
my Lord has forgotten me.”
Can a woman forget her nursing child
or show no compassion for the child of her womb?
Even these might forget,
yet I will not forget you.
– Isaiah 49:14–15
The strongest, deepest and most meaningful relationship in the world is the bond between a mother and a child. And that is how God sees his relationship with us. But this depiction goes much further when it likens our bond with God to that between a nursing mother and an infant.
This theological symbolism has an infinite depth, grace, and beauty. The infant wholly and completely depends and relies on the mother for survival. The infant instinctively and without any reservation and doubt always trusts the mother. The infant is transformed with the mere presence, touch, smell and sound of the mother. Every experience, instinct, thought and action of the infant is profoundly formed, inspired and impacted by the mother. The relationship and bond that the infant shares and feels towards his mother is the pure reflection of what our relationship with and towards God should resemble.
On the other hand, God’s depiction as a nursing mother shows us most vividly the immense love of God towards us. A mother’s life is impacted and transformed on every level with the arrival of a newborn. The mother from that point on in so many ways no longer lives for herself but for her newborn. Her life, preferences, routine, desires, hopes, career and even rest and sleep are disrupted as she dedicates herself wholly to the care of her infant. The most amazing aspect of this all is the fact that a mother makes all these sacrifices without ever getting anything from the infant. She does so simply because she loves unconditionally and sacrificially as our Lord loves us. However, the Bible takes this symbolism further by stating that even though a mother’s love toward her newborn is the potent and immaculate force in the psychical universe, but even if she forgets I will never forget you.
There are times in our lives when we lose our way and drift away from God. But no matter where in life we are, how long it has been since we have been away from the loving embrace and presence of our Lord, we must always remember that God has never closed the door since we left. He awaits our return. He is tormented by our absence and is always there to rush out to greet, embrace and welcome us back to his presence and love.