I love watching my children. I love watching them grow, and learn, and explore. I’m often reminded by the Lord while I’m watching them, how He watches us with admiration in just the same way. In this, I start to understand why Jesus longs for us to become like little children. I’ve always skimmed over that word “little” without much thought, but as I was reading the verse this morning I realized that Jesus uses this adjective several times in the context to get his point across. It gives me pause, and makes me wonder if He specifically chose a smaller child, perhaps under 5, to bring before the crowd that day.
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18: 2-4
Jesus doesn’t ask us to have faith like children as is commonly perceived. He tells us to BECOME like children. Like LITTLE children.
Children “learn” things about people, and about how the world works so quickly, and their perceptions of things get altered. Bit by bit, their eyes are “opened” to the realities of this broken world we live in. We “teach” our children to be cautious about things, but when they are “little,” their faith is pure. They don’t think. They just trust.
There are three characteristics about kids when they are very small that I think the Lord longs for us to recapture in ourselves.
Little children TRUST completely
Little children will believe ANYTHING and EVERYTHING you say. They think you can “fix” anything with tape or new batteries. They seem to think ANYTHING is possible with mommy or daddy. Sound familiar? “With God, all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26
I’ve had numerous requests to make the sun come up (or go down), change the weather, buy a real rocket ship so we can go to outer space, or miraculously change the day of the week. They trust that mommy and daddy can always make it better, no matter what; and they think you are AMAZING! When children are “little,” they look to you with total and complete trust, and don’t you LOVE that about them?
Little children are HUMBLE
I had to think about that one for a while. After all, it is pretty much the point Jesus is trying to make. Little kids know who the boss is, even though they don’t act like it half the time. Despite daily attempts to shift the balance of power, they know who’s really running the show. Little kids are also quick to look to you for help. They know they NEED help to accomplish even simple tasks, and they will come ask for it even if it’s inconvenient. They have no pride yet, no haughtiness, no sense of entitlement. They are the lowliest on the totem pole of society.
Little children are CAREFREE
I think what I am enjoying the most is watching how my kids marvel at the simplest of things. They play just to play. They do things like pour sand into funnels for HOURS just to watch it, and examine the squishy properties of the tiny crumb of bread left on the highchair tray. My one year old daughter LOVES when the wind blows across her face, and my four year old son still marvels that the sun goes down and then comes back up every morning.
And think about what little kids do when they are scared of something. My son had a “traumatic” experience with a dog who was off the leash at the park once. (It came to say hi and tried to lick him) Ever since, he has been terrified of dogs. If he sees a dog, he will run to me and try to climb up me like a cat escaping spraying water, and I have to dig his little fingers out of my skin. He clings to me like his very life depends on it.
One other thing. Sometimes when we are so busy, we don’t think about this. Your kids just love BEING with you, because you’re YOU.
Your kids just love BEING with YOU
I think God misses that in us. He longs for that in us. I think God wants us to be like little children in that we humble ourselves and look to Him for help, with everything. He wants us to trust Him completely with reckless abandon. He wants to watch us marvel at life, even at the seemingly simplest of things. He wants us to see things again like we did when we were “little” children, with wide, open, wondrous eyes. He wants us to simply want to be with Him. And perhaps when we are afraid or unsure of ourselves, we should run into Jesus’ arms and cling to him like our very lives depend on it. Because if you stop to think about it… our lives really do.