May 13, 2010

My Life with Girls 
by John UpChurch, Editor, Jesus.org 

"I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it."  (Mark 10:15, NIV)

Red heads. Two of them. Both girls. Every so often I have one of those surreal moments when my mind tries to process the seemingly sudden changes that have led me from single to married to Daddy. The transformation took five years, but in those moments, my brain compresses everything into a collage of memories—births, swings, kisses, diapers.

I also realize how much I want to be like my daughters. Not the peanut butter smeared on their faces (although that is fun) or the drool from teething or the occasional temper tantrums, but the joy they have in living. I see in them the aspects of faith that adulthood often strips away in college loans, leaf raking, broken promises, and car trouble.

When Jesus tells us in Mark 10:15 that we have to accept the kingdom of God like a child, the concept, at first, makes me want to splutter about how impossible that is. After all, we can't really understand the kingdom of God until we're adults. But therein lies the core of the verse. Being an "adult" often gets in the way.

My daughters, especially the oldest, demonstrate the aspects of faith that can be lacking in me. Sure, I'm usually okay, but sometimes I get so wrapped up in being an adult that being an adult becomes my focus. Here are the things I often miss:

Wonder: With my daughters, every unexpected pine cone or beetle or waterfall is new. Stories of God's goodness are also new. They listen; they notice; they explore. Too often I merely glance at something, take a picture, and move on. And I do that with God: read a verse, close my Bible, and plunge back into the "other stuff." I'd rather examine the words like they do dandelions—poke it, prod it, toss it around for a while.

Simplification: I multiply problems. Give me a difficulty, and I can think of thousands of what-ifs to compound it. But my daughters amaze me by reducing their problems into simple actions. If my oldest can't reach something, she simply asks for help. There's no long pause to consider how bad the situation will be if she isn't able to get said item; there's no fretting about what she'll do next month if the object is still out of reach. She assesses and asks and then moves on. How much less my frustrations would be if I just realized the difficulty, asked God to either deal with it or show me how to, and then let it drop. No gut-churning anxiety involved.

Excitement: When we tell our oldest about Jesus, she's excited. She loves making her mommy and daddy sit down to tell us the story of Jonah (thank you, talking vegetables), and she loves reading her Bible each night. I'm ashamed to compare that to myself. While I love talking about Jesus, the excitement isn't always there. I don't always love reading my Bible, and I certainly don't embrace the joy of salvation like I should.

Peace: My daughters just sleep. Sometimes they have their issues with hunger, thirst, and nature calls, but they don't lie awake worrying about their toys being there the next day. I can't say the same about me—well, not necessarily the toys part.

Intersecting Faith & Life: Receiving the kingdom of God like a child—the phrase is easy to pass over without another thought. But watching my own children has taught me that there's more to the phrase than just an interesting rhetorical device. God wants us to trust Him, to seek Him with all the attributes that children retain but adults often let fall away: simple wonder, excitement, and peace.

Further Reading:

Mark 10

Luke 18