I sit here thinking about the past year, wondering where it went and I realize something. I have lived my life too much in the past for far too long. I think we all do – whether we mean to or not. We worry that we’re not getting enough done, or that we’re not getting everything done that we want to do. We spend insane amounts of money on insurance and retirement plans for the future but it’s the past we hold onto. It’s the past that we cling to with frightened fingers while we peek through nearly closed eyelids at the future.
I look at my 10 year old and I realize that he has one advantage over me. He doesn’t hold onto the past and he isn’t afraid of the future. He lives in the moment. The Bible tells us…
“Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 18:3
Now I don’t think that means we all need to be silly or immature and I don’t think it means that we won’t get into Heaven if we’re not 100% innocent but I do think it means something very important and we all need to give it a lot more consideration than we typically do.
Most people look at that phrase and think it means we have to trust like little children or we have to be vulnerable like little children but I don’t think it’s either of those things.
Ironically, I think the world actually has the best idea of what Jesus is telling us here. For so many years we “Christians” have scoffed at the idea that our children are more important than anything else in life. We have convinced ourselves that we are doing the right thing when we work hard to provide for them and we’ve convinced ourselves that the best way to educate them is to put them in a school with other kids their own age and we tell ourselves that all of these things we do are for the best, are in their best interest, that we’re doing it for them.
But are we really?
At best, we have eighteen years with our children. After that, they may live at home, they may stay with the family, they may even bow to their parent’s will but they’re no longer a child. And, for a lot of “children”, they stop acting and thinking like children long before their 18th birthday.
So what are we doing? What are we thinking? And what should we be doing, thinking?
Making money is important and providing a good education is essential… BUT neither of those things means a thing if we don’t understand what this verse is telling us.
Like so many of the passages in the Bible, this one can easily be taken out of context too. And I think that’s one of the biggest problems with the typical way we interpret the meaning here. And you have to go further than even the verses immediately around it too. Go back farther than the begnning of chapter 18 and go farther forward than the end of the same chapter. And, at the same time, you have to read between the lines. It’s difficult for us to look at those words and derive the actual meaning from them. Most of us forget that He came into a world that was very different than the one we live in today. There are places in the world that are similar to the Bethlehem Jesus was born in and in the many cities He visited as He spoke and taught the words of His Father but even those places are slowly losing the grip on their old ways.
We think we know better. We think we have the answers, the technology, the knowledge. What we are missing is the wisdom. We as adults, are missing the wisdom that I can see in the eyes of my 7 year old daughter. So many parents are shocked when their children make simple statements that are extraordinarily insightful but it’s really not that shocking when you think about it. In fact, what is shocking is that we wonder where it came from. We wonder why and how they have such insight at such a tender young age.
But Jesus taught in the temple when He was 12. Can you believe that? He was 12. And, at twelve, He was immeasurably wise. He knew what His Father expected of Him… already.
In my humble opinion, He began His ministry then. Actually, He really began His ministry the night He was born. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that His ministry actually began before He was born, with the prophets that foretold of His birth.
And I think the thing we miss most often is this:
We are all little children in His eyes. Jesus had a unique perspective that no one can possibly appreciate fully. He was born into a frail human body and He grew up in that frail human body just like we all do. I can’t begin to comprehend God’s plan – no one can but I do know that part of that plan was to send a part of Himself down to Earth. And I think that is one of the more brilliant portions of His plan. He sent to us a piece of Himself and He did it in such a quiet unassuming way. Absolutely nothing about Jesus conception and birth was spectacular and yet, everything about it was so far beyond spectacular, it’s difficult for people to honestly believe it.
But in His eyes, we are children. We are His children and we are innocent in the way that we don’t fully understand everything about how the world works. We don’t know everything about His plans and we’re really not capable of understanding if we did.
What’s my point? What is the message that the world has gotten that we, so often, miss?
Children are the most important thing in the world! Children are our responsibility, our gift and our legacy. We can make all the money in the world and it doesn’t make a bit of difference if we mess up raising our children. We can advance in our chosen profession to the very top but if we miss our children growing up, it’s all worthless.
We have such a short time, so few years to spend with them, to teach them, to train them up in the way they should go and then our time is up and their turn begins. Our children are our legacy and they are the ONLY thing that matters in this life while they are young.
They are a precious gift that is too often squandered, taken for granted and ignored.
God bless the parents who understand this already and are doing everything they can to parent the right way.
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