Becoming Like Children

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:1-4, ESV)

I recently traveled to Maryland to visit my sister, two nieces, and nephew. While I do not intimately know the sacred bond that comes from giving birth to a child, there is a unique attachment that happens with being Aunt Tracy. I wasn’t present for the birth of the oldest, Haley, but when I held her at two weeks old, there was a seismic shift inside my soul. My own mother’s heart was awakened as the weight of her fragile little body settled on my chest as we napped together—she exhausted from her new world, and me exhausted from tour life. In that moment, my heart committed to love and protect her as if she were my own.

I want to wonder and be curious as I do the work set before me.Haley is now 16. She’s driving, working, and about to graduate from high school a year early. While I love Haley and we have a deep bond, it hasn’t always been easy. What is it about children that both melts our hearts and triggers every nerve ending inside of us, sometimes colliding at the same time? Could it be that children reflect back to us the innocence we have known at some point in the past and one that we long to find again?

Could this, a childlike innocence, be what Jesus was calling the crowd back to when he pulled a child into his lap and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” If Jesus was not telling the adults to become naïve with no understanding of the world around them, what was he suggesting?

Children are filled with wonder and curiosity. They can ask more questions in a day than most adults ask in a month. It’s one of those traits that invites us into relationship with them and make us feel crazy at the same time. How many times or ways can you answer the question, “Why?” But it’s that exact wonder and curiosity that keeps children teachable, joy-filled, and playful. One thing that continues to amaze me is that children from around the world, regardless of wealth or poverty, are all naturally inquisitive and love to play. I have come to believe that play is the universal language that transcends all barriers.

I have been in a season where my to-do list and deadlines are taking up way too much space inside me as I plow through each day to get things done. I can feel the tightness of stress growing with the pressure to perform. This is not the way I want to experience the one life Jesus has given me. I want to wonder and be curious as I do the work set before me—whether it’s in my quiet moments with Jesus, as I sit in front of my computer, as I spend time with people, or the next time I play golf.

Regardless of our age, Jesus is asking us to become like children and embody wonder and curiosity. May we find ways to be teachable, joy-filled, and playful today.

Tracy Hanson
February 23, 2017
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