I was to them like those who lift infants to their cheeks.
Hosea 11:4 (NRSV)
Not everyone is a baby person. But for those who are, there’s something about a baby cheek. You want to stroke it. You want to plump it with a fingertip to see whether you can prompt a smile. You want to go cheek to cheek with it.
Those sweet interactions are tender and lovely, and totally unnecessary.
You can take excellent care of a baby’s needs without ever lifting them to your cheek. You can protect, feed, clothe, diaper, rock, walk, read, and talk with a baby, all with great love, without ever going cheek to cheek. You can enjoy a baby’s cuteness, exclaim over its chubbiness or its little elfin face without craving the feel of that velvety new skin against yours.
But a baby person can’t.
And here’s the thing: in this verse, God reveals himself as a baby person.
The Bible is full of the giant, impressive deeds of God, and they are awesome. When the Bible speaks of the love God has for us, it’s most often in terms of how he saves his children, how he protects them, feeds them, gives them good things.
All those things are true, but God-the-baby-person also craves those moments of tender connection with us, his babies, of celebrating our sweet neediness, of soothing our fussiness by bringing us right up to his face and cooing to us.
If you, like me, could use a little tenderness these days, imagine yourself as that baby that God just can’t wait to go cheek to cheek with.
Because that’s who you are: a baby who doesn’t have to do anything to inspire this except for exist. And the creator of the universe can’t wait to bring you to his face and delight in you.