Every now and then I see her. She is a happy little girl with blonde hair sitting on a tricycle with the handlebars broken off. There are other toys around for her to play with. But she always chooses the tricycle. It’s not safe. If she were to fall, she could really get hurt. But she doesn’t seem to care. She pedals and with both hands on the gooseneck, she tries to steer. I’ve never seen her actually succeed. But she’s always smiling.
There is something about her that makes me think of the verse in Matthew 18 “unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Why didn’t Jesus say, “unless you become mature and serious and all grown up?”
What is Jesus looking for? What must we change? What is it about little children that we’re missing?
I’ve thought a lot about that recently. I’ve thought about what it means to be a little child, to be small, to be insignificant, and to be little.
The little ones are totally dependent on the big ones to take care of them. They are told when to get up, and when to go to bed, and though they may whine or complain, they still go. They are told when to eat, and what to eat. They are given limited choices, this shirt or that shirt. Every day in the future is ‘tomorrow’ and every day in the past is ‘yesterday’, there is no real understanding of ‘time’. And, they never worry about whether or not the rent will be paid, or if there is food in the pantry, they just assume there is, or will be.
The little ones trust the big ones completely.
The little ones are not afraid to laugh at silly things. They poke bugs. They wear diapers. They can’t pronounce all their words. And they’re not embarrassed by any of it. They are content to sit and hear the same story told over and over. They like to cuddle before bed. They like to hear bedtime songs sung off key.
The little ones just like to be around the big ones.
I think this is what Jesus wants. He wants us to abandon all of the things that separate us from him and from each other. Independence. Self-protection. Worry. Complaining. The need to have everything ‘just right’.
He wants us to trust him completely.
He wants us to like being around him.
It is not easy to be little. It’s not easy to let go of all the things that keep us from sitting at Jesus’ feet and worshiping with abandon. People might be watching. We might get laughed at. There’s work to be done.
Does God ever bring you a memory, like me on my broken tricycle, to remind you that it is OK to let down your guard and be little, so that you might more fully love and trust your very Big God?