“Truly I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3)
When was the last time you were a child? No I don’t mean childish, but childlike – a moment of innocence, silly amusement, trust, uninhibited by your own need for control? What about in your own spiritual walk with God? When was the last time you really embraced the idea of being God’s child? Perhaps when were you last dependent on the Father?
Those questions popped up in my mind as I read this gospel passage sometime last week. And I thought long and hard, before finding a simple childlike moment in a recent visit to the bird park. Lorries Loft (think many many small parrots flying in a huge aviary) brought out the kid in me. Finding a childlike moment in my faith was a little more difficult.
“Woohoo independence, I’m all grown up!”
I just recently turned 24 and have been working for slightly over a year. Through the years, I have progressed, grown old enough to pay my own bills, give my parents monthly allowance, make a big decision about career and a relationship. It’s not just the visible signs of adulthood but on the inside, I feel and see how my capacity to question, to rationalise, to make a choice, all expand with age.
Ah it’s so easy to learn and put on this “grown-up” way of thinking such that life – my decisions, my thoughts and even how I decide to prioritise my time – can be easily defended in the name of personal choice and rationalisation. This mindset has slowly crept into my spiritual life… The other day I was on the way home from work, feeling a little restless all week and a thought came “Maybe I should go by ado and some qt with Jesus will help quell the restlessness in my heart”. And then the “adult” side of me took over – But I’m tired, working’s tough y’know, I haven’t had dinner, I should be responsible and spend time with family, I need my rest so that I can be better at work tomorrow, some sleep and rest will help instead yadayada”. A simple example but maybe it illustrates something deeper.
“Hey, you’re my child!”
I’m not dismissing the validity of those statements but I suddenly realised… hey I take on more “adult” roles and responsibilities but that shouldn’t mean I neglect my primary identity as God’s child right? In this relationship, God’s the parent while I’m the kiddo, so maybe my role is less to argue or rationalise about time and difficult life situations but more to listen to what the Father is saying about them. And that moment of restlessness, my Daddy was calling me to Him.
Being a child isn’t the most natural thing for a young adult. I’m at the stage when I feel like dependence may sometimes be a sign of immaturity and weakness, where I feel like I’ve the power to choose what I want to do, who I want to be. And yet… The Father’s call is simply to be his child. I realised that in the craziness of growing up, deep inside there’s a lot of fear and uncertainty of whether I’ll make it in this adult world – something I’m too scared to admit that I haven’t quite figured it out.
The safest and probably most apt “place” to be a child, is with God. He calls me to be vulnerable and real with Him – to share my fears like how a child rushes to his/her parent for reassurance when he sees something scary; to tell Him how my day really went like how a child does when he comes home from an excursion; to trust the Father with how my life will turn out just like a child trusts a parent when he attends his first day of primary school. It’s funny how I feel like I’ve to learn how to be a child again with God. I’m still learning how to grow in my dependence and trust in Him, to strive for a simple faith and not one merely propped up by theological understandings and of course, to surrender my life to the Father.
Perhaps then, the more we grow up, the more we need to be like children.
Jess had a crazy childhood with four siblings. She can’t remember a lot of it, but she does still adore “My Little Pony” and “Winx Club” (Don’t Judge!). Being the eldest has shaped who she is today – responsible, a little bossy and mostly quite motherly.