As kids, a favorite pastime we often played was "Simon says." The object of the game was to respond only when those two words preceded a command. For example: If the caller yelled out "touch your elbow" with out first saying Simon says … and you touched your elbow, you were disqualified.
Lately, I've been reminded of another rather curious command ... one that was given to us by Jesus Christ. He tells us, "Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matt.18: 3 NIV) Naturally the question arises, how do we become child-like as full-grown adults? I began to think about the inherent characteristics found in most children. They are usually loving, spontaneous, quick to forgive, trusting, uninhibited and full of belly laughs.
I am blessed on occasion to be in the company of my youngest nephew, Phillip Michael. Several weeks ago, he had a very important secret to share with his grandpa. (also known as Pop.) He leaned over and said, "Pop, do you wanna know who my favorite Aunt is"? Even though my dad had a good suspicion of who it might be, he replied, "Why no, I don't … Who is it?" The little guy cupped his small hands and whispered …"It's my Aunt Missey"!
I don't mind telling you, that upon hearing the news, I promptly stroked a few more "proud peacock feathers" in my ever growing, bigger by the day, Auntie hat! I come from a large and loving Irish family, where the competition can be very tough! I undoubtedly left behind a trail of most worthy opponents. Honestly though, I have to confess my secret to success. It's really very simple. When ever I am around this little fellow, we are usually sprawled out on the living room floor, busy playing "pretend", "imagine", "finger paints," "reading adventures," and we love to giggle!
In the midst of the play, I'm reminded of all the beautiful qualities children bring into the world. Unknowingly, I am being taught many of life's lessons by a precocious five-year old. Yep, He thinks I'm kind of special … but I know he's God sent.
This past weekend, my "pint size" buddy and I decided to head out to the beach. We were going to try our hand at mastering some of those scary waves. As we stood side by side at the water's edge, a few moments went by, when all of the sudden Phillip Michael looked up at the sky and with his small voice and yelled, "God … Can you please send some small ones"? I was trying not to laugh, (recognizing that serious business was taking place between a child and his Creator.) I thought to myself that it sure feels like I'm caught in the middle of a scene straight from the popular cartoon strip The Family Circle.
I am convinced that the older we get the more we need to recall our innocence. Some of my own moments of recollection involve a box of crayons and a coloring book! I even allow myself to color outside the lines!
We must humble ourselves as little children so that we can again become teachable. Jesus loves the little children. They are always unpretentious, full of wonder, quick to follow, and slow to distrust. Help us Lord to find our way back to your lap. Help us to rest in the cradle of your arms as you read to us the story of your kingdom.
The psalmist wrote:
My heart is not proud, O Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have behaved and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me. (Psalm 131:1-2)
Daily we all have the opportunity to learn from the many "little professors" that playfully surround us. We just need to have child-like ears and a carefree heart. It is of utmost importance. After all … the kingdom of heaven is waiting.
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