Then he called a little child over to sit among the disciples, and said, “I assure you that if you don’t turn your lives around and become like this little child, you will definitely not enter the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 18:2-3
Even just a few hours with our grandchildren can be a real boost. Fact is, I don’t know of a single person who couldn’t use the hugs and smiles, most especially in this fractious era. David and Beks barreled into Maul-Hall Friday evening, jumped all over Rebekah from the get go, and were off and gone before the sun had even considered pulling the covers back and hitting “start” on the coffee machine.
Of course, like all children, our grands can be a handful. It’s called, “no time to sit around and veg, there’s too much to learn and do!” It’s all part of the growing and learning process. There’s a huge element of trial and error in the preschool world, and there wouldn’t be any progress without mistakes, instruction, falling down, trying again, lots of directive love, and hiccups along the way.
That’s why I try not to look for flawless performances at any age. We’re all learning – or we should be. The idea that any one of us would ever be done with discovery, or live error free suggests that “maturity” means the end of learning. But nothing could be farther from the truth.
To my way of thinking, maturity means knowing enough about ourselves to realize just how little we do know, to recognize how far away we are from mastery in any field, and to understand how limitless is our potential once we ask God to be our guide along the pathway.
This past year I turned sixty years of age, and in terms of learning I’d like to think I’m still going strong. What I’m working on right now is my masters in applied spiritual living, my specialists degree in listening, and a lifelong effort certificate in communication. Hopefully in a few years I’ll begin to close in on a couple of PhD’s, because I’d love to contribute something new to the field of knowledge.
So I understand what Jesus is getting at when he says things such as, “I assure you that if you don’t turn your lives around and become like this little child, you will definitely not enter the kingdom of heaven. Those who humble themselves like this little child will be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me” (Matthew 18:3-5).
Jesus understood how completely immersed in learning children are, and how wide open their spirits tend to be; he describes kids as humble because they’re too excited about engaging the world around them to be caught up in the kind of arrogance that defines a closed mind. It’s not just curiosity that marks children, but hunger! Children are hungry for life, and if maturity means the end of that then I don’t want any of it.
So I guess I just love being around hungry children – because they remind me how bountiful and how exciting the spiritual life is for the one who is willing to come to the banquet.
Rebekah once said that children approach life with hands wide open, whereas too many adults come with clenched fist, not only grasping what they have too tightly, but unable to receive anything more… or new… or challenging… or satisfying.
My body may be aging in some regards, but I want my spirit to be that of a child. Hungry; hungry for life; hungry for Jesus; hungry for this Great Adventure….