Jesus said, “…unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)
What are little children like?
- They are filled with wonder. It’s easy, as an adult, to get so caught up in the business of life that we fail to slow down enough to appreciate the awesomeness of God’s creation and the little “love touches” He sends our way.
I truly enjoy spending time with our young grandchildren. I love seeing their excitement as they gather rocks in a stream, jump in a pile of leaves, or gather wildflowers for someone they love.
Are we filled with wonder and thankfulness at the little “love touches” God sends our way– like a note of encouragement from someone just when we need it, or a cute Hummingbird flying right up to us, or the sudden appearance of a rainbow, reminding us of God’s promises?
2. Little children are open to surprises. I like pleasant surprises, but the adult in me is often fearful of venturing out into the unknown. If I’m not willing to risk the unknown, it’s difficult for God to surprise me! Sometimes I’m like a kid at an egg hunt that’s so afraid of getting hurt, or lost, or failing to do as well as the others, that I just sit on a bench and watch the more adventuresome ones, and then envy them for all the eggs they’ve collected. If I’d just leave the bench, the Lord could lead me to a nice surprise. Inherent in the word “surprise” is the concept of the unknown. If I constantly cling to the security of the known, I’m not going to be surprised much!
In the summer of 2016, I almost missed out on a HUGE blessing because I didn’t want to venture out of my comfort zones. When our church announced that it would be sending a team to Romania to help with a youth camp, I didn’t even pray about going until after my husband signed up. Thankfully, the Lord didn’t give up on me, and I ended up going and receiving one of the biggest blessings of my life! God worked in and through me, and I gained a whole bunch of new friends!
Do I believe that God gives only good gifts? Obviously not, if I’m fearful of what surprises He might have in store for me. I’m so very thankful for His loving patience toward me!
3. Children are willing to risk loving and being loved. When my children were young, it was amazing how easily they would reach out to people, with no fear of rejection. They might be disappointed when someone didn’t respond to them, but that didn’t prevent them from reaching out again! They would seek people out!
In contrast, I’m too often fearful of reaching out to people I don’t know. My pride fears rejection and the possibility that I’ll embarrass myself (since I’m not a great conversationalist).
Besides not relishing the physical discomfort of a trip to Romania, I felt very insecure about reaching out to teens and young adults, especially knowing we might not share a common language. But God had a wonderful surprise for me there, too. I fell in love with those young people, and they responded warmly to me. I also gained new friends among the Romanian church members (especially our very gracious hosts) and I became close with the American team that went (some of whom were from a church in northern California).
4. Children are able to laugh a lot. Children laugh very easily, even at themselves. As an adult, I often take myself too seriously. God wants us to be able to laugh at our mistakes and embarrassments. Children also laugh just because they’re having fun!
In Romania, at camp, we had loads of fun and laughter, as we danced and played crazy games. Our insecurities gradually melted away as we quit worrying about what others thought and just enjoyed being silly. We had our serious moments, too, but there was plenty of laughter!
5. A child humbly accepts dependence upon someone else for wisdom, life and safety. Have you ever noticed how often a young child asks the question, “Why?” They know they don’t have all the answers, and they aren’t afraid to ask questions! In the Bible, Jesus often encouraged people to ask Him questions. Too often we adults refrain from asking questions because we fear looking ignorant or foolish. A young child doesn’t worry about that.
Children also understand that they need others, whereas we adults tend to want to be self-sufficient. One of the things that made giving up teaching difficult for me in 1983 was that I’d be totally dependent financially on Tom. The Lord would now have to meet my physical needs through someone other than myself. I had to surrender my fear of what I’d do if something happened to Tom.
I need to turn to God for all my needs, just as our children came to us when they were young. I need to trust in God’s care and protection. In all the years that I’ve been walking with Him, He hasn’t failed me yet! (And I know He never will!)
May the Lord help us all to be more like little children!