Childlike Faith

A group of nine-year-olds was asked their opinion on the subject of death.  Jim said, “When you die, they bury you in the ground and your soul goes to heaven, but your body can’t go to heaven because it’s too crowded up there already.”  Judy answered, “Only the good people go to heaven.  The other people go to where it’s hot all the time like Florida.”  John thoughtfully replied, “Maybe I’ll die someday, but I hope I don’t die on my birthday because it’s no fun to celebrate your birthday if you’re dead.”  Marsha added, “When you die, you don’t have to do your homework in heaven, unless your teacher is there, too.”

We should be so innocent….”Unless you turn to God from your sins and become as little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)

As a Little Child

“Adults are obsolete children.” Dr Seuss

When did we get so inflexible in our thinking?  It seems that every issue has people up in arms.  The polarization of our political systems is evident from world affairs to our local town government.  Everyone seems to believe that their take on each issue is the “right” way.  Anyone who thinks differently is wrong and worthy of vociferous criticism.  Whatever happened to holding our leaders up in prayer and esteem?  But they’re wrong, you say.  That may be, but who made you judge and jury?

Then some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them.  But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these (Matthew 19:13-14).  Why did the kingdom of heaven belong to the young?  What was it about them that made them more heaven-bound than the adults around them?

After reading a novel by Nick Cutter, I have begun to wonder if it comes down to the elasticity of a child’s mind–an ability to withstand horrors and mysteries and snap back, like an elastic band.  Many adult minds seem flinty and brittle.  Those minds either break (insanity, panic attacks, heart attacks, aneurysms) or scar over and become immune to new mysteries.  The world and its inhabitants have been inundated with horror and frightening mysteries.  Think of the typical things that most adults worry about–losing their jobs, paying the mortgage, being with the “right” people, whether they will die unloved.  You never see adults avoiding sidewalk cracks in fear that they might (somehow) break their mothers’ backs.  They don’t wish on stars or while blowing out candles on a birthday cake.

These are minor things when compared to the fears of a child–leering clowns under their bed, slimy monsters hiding just beyond the light in the basement, and faceless, sucking horrors from beyond the stars.  There’s no 12-step or self-help group for dealing with those fears.  Or maybe there is: you grow up.

But when you do, you also lose the ability to believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny.  Growing up, you surrender the nimbleness of mind required to believe in such mysteries–and with it the ability to cope with them.  That’s what’s different about kids: they believe everything can happen, and they fully expect it to.  Children believe in Jesus, and heaven and hell and miracles with all of their being.  That’s why Jesus said what He did about kids.

About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?”  Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them.  Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.  Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  “And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me. But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea (Matthew 18:1-6).

While children have to grow up, encourage them to never let go of the wonder and mystery that is God and His creation.  The miracles He promised and the Rapture that is coming soon will be for such as those.

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them (Isaiah 11:6).  Or is that too much for our adult minds to handle?..