She was cruising through her Bible reading when a familiar passage seemed new, so she stopped and read it again. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Mark 10:14-15, NIV)
Such as these...
Receive the kingdom of God like a little child...
Do I do that?
Hmmm. I’ve been a Christian a long time, and I tend to be pleased with myself when I see growth. And I’m delighted with the idea that I’m not still in the milk-drinking-only stage that Paul talked about. I’ve matured, and I’m not childish in my faith anymore.
There’s the key. Childish vs. childlike.
She settled more deeply into her comfy chair and ruminated. How does one practice childlikeness without childishness creeping in? She tapped the pen on her forehead, an unconscious sign of deep thinking.
Well, children are certainly active. Yes, and energetic. When a kid plays, he’d much rather run, jump, leap, yell, and generally whirl about than sit quietly. What is play, in the kingdom of God, anyway? Worship? Adoration?
She figured she’d turn her thoughts into reality, so she stood up and jumped (once), raising her voice minutely as she said, “Yay, God!”
She was not arrested, nor was she carted off to the loony bin (or the emergency room--nothing broken, nothing ‘thrown out,’ so far as she could tell). Still here, still in one piece. So, that tiny step forward into spiritual childhood went fine.
What else? Oh, their creativity. They’re so...what? Involved... Interested...no, INVESTED. They’re so invested in their play that they truly believe what their imagination is engineering for them: that they are flying, or maybe sword fighting while avoiding the scalding lava and the roaring dragon... When I ask God for something in prayer, am I ever so invested that I truly believe it will come to pass? (or already has...) Is it so real I can almost taste it?
She jotted this down: Pray like a child plays.
And how does a child interact with others? Children trust. Ouch. I don’t, sometimes not even God. She wrote down “trust,” underlining it three times.
Next, please: let’s move on.
Kiddos have a passion for justice--how often do they use the phrase “That’s not fair!” I have a mild, passing interest in social justice, but a passion? To cry out when I see that something isn’t fair?
And they are so accepting! Of everybody, no prejudices! Very young children, who haven’t been exposed to some of the nastier ways of the world, don’t see people (including themselves) as fat, skinny, too this, too that, not good enough, etc. What a wonderful world this would be, she thought, if we all saw each other simply as people. It’d be...heaven.
She closed her eyes to concentrate. Children. What do they like? A broad smile crept across her face as the concept took shape in her mind. Christmas. For a tiny child, unwrapping the gift and playing with the ribbons, the shiny paper, even the box itself can be more fun than playing with the gift itself. Maybe the next time God gives me a gift, I can enjoy the presentation of it with the same childlike glee. I’ll try. I’ll try hard to remember to do that.
She remembered her niece on a Christmas day, long ago, at about 18 months. She’d received so many gifts, and had worked with such intense concentration at the ‘unwrapping process,’ that she lay on the floor, conked out, snuggled up to a big teddy bear. Her aunty, a lifelong insomniac, also recalled how she had envied that remarkable ability of a child, to sleep easily, anywhere, anytime. “Lord, help me to rest in You, snoozing away without a care in the world.”
No cares in the world. Most little boys and girls are not at all worried about finances, or how the bills would be paid. That’s something to be imitated.
I do have bills to pay, so I need to wrap this up. What’s one more thing about children that I can incorporate into my Christian walk? Who do they...
The final lesson. Yes, oh yes. Children have a natural tendency to imitate their father.
Standing again, she closed the Bible and moved across the room.