A greater understanding of why Jesus said, “Become like little children.”
Posted in , May 16, 2022
We’re incredibly lucky. In one fell swoop last year we were blessed with not just one but two grandsons. Our first grandchildren. Silas was born to our younger son Tim and his wife Henley in July, and then in December our older son, Will and his wife Karen, had baby Ricky.
They are ridiculously cute and cuddly. Silas is a voracious crawler, racing across the floor in our apartment with astonishing speed, slapping his hands on wood or carpet. Ricky has a pensive side. Staring off into space with thoughts unspoken or at least un-babbled.
I’ve come to a greater understanding of why Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:1).
Just the other day, watching Silas, making sure he didn’t tug at an electrical cord and put it in his mouth, I found myself praying in a new way. Completely present in the moment.
1) Children are present. How often when I turn to prayer, I find my mind wandering a million directions, thinking about a check I need to write, a bill that needs to be paid, a friend I need to call, a list I should compose for the grocery store. Why can’t that all wait?
Then I see Silas or Ricky pick up a book, turn it upside down, right side up, maybe even put it in a mouth. They are exploring the wonder of the universe, God’s world, right now. Entranced. Enraptured. Enthusiastic.
“Be still and know that I am God,” the Psalmist said. They have that stillness even when they’re moving.
2) Children ask. Neither Silas nor Ricky have any words or sentences. Nothing we can understand. But they point. They gesture. The look quizzically at you. They smile. They frown. Silas reaches out to try some banana, biting it with a toothless grin.
When they’re happy, you can tell. The smiles of children light up the world, don’t they? When they are displeased you can hear it. No wonder we use the language of parenting to describe our relationship to God. We are all like children asking God for what we need, crying out. Like children, we trust that God knows our every need.
3) Children express their joy. Of course, we have a basketful of toys for the grandchildren to play with, but they are just as likely to play with some adult gadget. Silas, as it turns out, is fascinated by our Swiffer. He grabs hold of the handle and pushes it across the floor.
The other day when he was in our care, he must have spent half-an-hour playing with the Swiffer, pushing it across carpet and floor. The sounds that came out of him were full of laughter and joy. Later I lifted him up in my lap and played the piano with him, as he sang. And I sang along.
This time the joy was mine. “Become like little children…?” I could feel just what that was like.