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Become Like Little Children

There is a verse from the Bible that frequently pops into my head. In the book of Matthew 18:3, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, unless you become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” In many ways, God has used my own children to reveal to me what He might have meant when Jesus spokeof becoming like little children.

For example, this verse recently struck me in a very unique way while I was dropping my kids off at their children’s program at church. No matter how excited my kids are about the things they will do and learn during their programs, as we walk up to the door of the children’s program, I will start to hear, “Daddy, but I want to stay with you all the time.” The little hand I’m holding will clutch mine tighter, and sometimes it will turn into a situation of my child outrightly grasping my whole leg with all four of their limbs and refusing to let go. Then when they are finally put into the program, the crying and wailing can be heard for minutes before they can be calmed down. Those of us who have kids are well familiar with this kind of separation anxiety. Then the question hit me, “Do I have this kind of anxiety when I’m separated from my heavenly Father?” Does it bother me even an ounce of that proportion when I stray from His side? When I’m far apart from God in my heart, does my soul cry and wail for His r urn? When I’m slipping away from His way and straying in my life, do I clutch His hand more and more firmly? Do I grab onto Him for dear life with all four limbs and refuse to let go?

Become like little children. That phrase keeps echoing in the caverns of my mind. If you have kids, spend some time observing them. What are the anxieties of a child? What do they worry about? When I observe my children, I notice that they don’t worry about what they are going to wear. They don’t worry about how they look. They don’t worry about what car I drive. They don’t worry about who’s smarter and more accomplished. They don’t worry about social status. They don’t worry about wealth. They don’t worry about how many bedrooms our house has. In fact, few of their worries are the same as the things we concern ourselves with as adults. When I observe my children, I notice that it concerns them greatly whether I will play with them, whether I spend time with them and whether they get hugs and kisses. They worry about me being upset with them when they do something wrong.

Of course I know that what mattrs to them will change over time. They will become teenagers. They will grow to become adults as well, God willing. I know that they will need to learn the responsibilities of living in the world and honoring God with their lives, careers, resources, and gifts, but I keep coming back to the fact that Jesus said in order for us to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, we must “become like little children.” Now, I don’t believe that Jesus was asking us to ignore our responsibilities as adults. In fact, there are many times that the Scriptures talk about being responsible and leaving our childishways behind.

However, because Jesus says we will not enter the Kingdom unless we “become like little children,” it makes me ask the question, do I have the heart of a child? Do I have the anxieties of a child? Does it botherme or do I have separation anxiety when I am not spending time with my heavenly Father? Or does it bother me more that my career isn’t going the way I wanted it to? Does my soul cry out and reach for God when I am separated spiritually from Him? Or do I cry more when things aren’t going well for me with a co-worker, employer, or with a girlfriend or boyfriend? Do I clutch and grasp and hold on to for dear life to the hand of God when things of this world are pulling us away from the will of the Father? Or do I vainly try and hold on and grasp and clutch as hard as I can to all my earthly possessions: my house, my car, my social status, my job? Which one bothers us more?

“I tell you the truth, unless you become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Kind of makes you think twice doesn’t it?

(Diamond Tam is a clinical assistant professor of ophthalmology at Stanford University and lives in the Bay Area with his wife and two children.)

Article Link: http://ccmusa.org/read/read.aspx?id=chg20110104
To reuse online, please credit Challenger, Jan-Mar 2011. CCMUSA.