Friday, October 16, 2015

Come as a little child...

Throwback Thursday...a day late.

Today in church our pastor was speaking on who the Kingdom of Heaven belonged to, and when he got to the part of those who were childlike, my ears immediately perked up! I got excited not because I am childlike - although I sincerely hope I am, but because this is a blog topic I've been mulling over for about a week. I take that as a signal that now is the time to write this blog.

What exactly does it mean to "come as a child"? What characteristics does a child have? For many, the answer is that a child is innocent and trusting - well, that may be a baby's description, but for those of us who have worked with children, a very different picture emerges. Children can be so full of life that containing them is a challenge. They are sometimes loud, runny-nosed, smelly, and just plain messy! What about those characteristics?

I really liked what our pastor said about being childlike as opposed to childish. To be childlike meant to be without cynicism...full of wonder instead of doubt. That is a pretty accurate description, but I think there's even more. So, with hat in hand, I submit a further definition of being childlike.

Anyone who is a parent knows the joy of going to pick your child up from the sitter and knowing that when they hear your voice or see your face, that child will come running and shouting your name, eager to be picked up. You are their hero and they are SO glad to see you. That fades with time and as they get older, they tend to ignore your presence - even seem embarassed by it. I want to be the child who eagerly RUNS to my Father God knowing that He has come for me! I don't want the cynicism of time to dull that excitement of knowing my Father is near.

Children also are notorious for hugs and kisses - even if they aren't especially neat when they feel the need to give those hugs and kisses. Jam all over their face - no problem. Gooey mud on their fingers - they don't even give it a second thought. No matter what kind of mess they are in, they eagerly run to their father and wait to be picked up. Too often, when I find my life is a sticky, gooey mess, I think I have to clean myself up BEFORE I can come to my father. Instead, I should just run to Him...He can clean me up much better than I can clean myself. He doesn't turn away and tell me to go clean up before approaching Him - He stoops down to pick me up and return my embrace. I've found myself saying to my own child - "My aren't you a mess," only to have them laughingly agree and reach out for me to fix it.

When a child is hurt, they immediately look for their parent. They know the one who can take the hurt away simply by holding them. I see this in my own children, even though they are now older. They may hold it together, hiding their pain - until they see my face. Then they crumble and just allow me to hold them. At times, when life has beaten them down, they lash out at me. I don't like it, but I know they aren't angry at me. They are frustrated and need to vent. They know no matter what they say or do, I love them. I have had time myself when I railed against the injustice of life to my Father. He is not afraid of my anger or angry at me in return. Instead, He listens, allows me to rant and rage and then reminds me of His Truth that helps me go on in peace. For my anger, He gives peace in return.

Children are sure that their parents can fix anything. It only takes one or two feeble attempts before they come with broken pieces in their hands and beg you to fix it. I wonder how often I forget to take the broken pieces to my Father God to let Him make things new again.

Children believe they can do anything their parent tells them they can do. I was sure I would be a doctor or veterinarian or great artist - all because my parents said I could do it. Yet, I doubt God when He tells me I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Funny how getting older changes things.

A child is filled with the awe and wonder of creation (thanks for pointing that one out Pastor!) My children were constantly filled with wonder at a rock, a flower, a turtle, just about everything when they were young. Yesterday, we went on a nature walk and once again we slowed down enough to marvel at a spider in his web. Maybe it's not just that we forget to be filled with wonder, maybe we forget to slow down enough to see it.

A child is filled with compassion. When they see something that has died, their hearts fill with sorrow - even if it's only a small bird. Have I allowed my heart to become so hardened that it no longer feels sorrow for the helpless...even the birds and opossums? Yes, I know I can't go around crying over ever creature that dies, but do I still feel at least a little sorrow for what sin has brought into this world? That is what caused all this - sin....and mine was a part of that.

A child is always looking to see if their parent is watching. Mama, watch me! How many times have I heard that? Am I still just as eager for my Father's watchful eye? Do I seek His approval above all others?

At times, I have found others who think that an optimistic outlook is simply the mark of someone who just does not understand how dreadful things are. Make no mistake, remaining childlike is NOT easy in today's society. It takes a concentrated effort to find the good in all situations and people. Still, it's worth it....for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.

Now, I have to go and deal with my child who is not acting very childlike, but who is acting very childish right now. You can figure out which one.

Matthew 18:3 (NIV)

And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

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