Wednesday, August 28, 2013

No Old Fogeys Allowed!

Dear Friends,

I remember that hot, summer evening my step-daughter graduated from First Lutheran High School. Family members and older friends congratulated her and said things like, “Well, how does it feel to be an adult now?” It seemed only a few short years ago that she had cuddled up on my lap and tried so hard to learn how to read. So full of fears that she would never catch up with the rest of the first-graders. So full of innocence and joy. It’s our job as parents to grow our children into fully functioning adults and, when we succeed, it’s natural for us to miss their endearing childlike qualities and perhaps feel a little sad. 

And, as Jesus observes today what we do, what we say, what we watch on TV, what we think... I wonder if Jesus may also feel a little sad when He remembers how we were as a child. Many of us adults are worn-down with worry. Anxious at times. Depressed at other times. Stressed at work and at home. And, God wants us to enter Heaven as a little child – not as an adult who’s anxious about the petty stuff that God always had under control anyway. God doesn’t want you to enter Heaven worried about all the unfinished things you left on earth. God doesn’t want you to enter Heaven stressed about your new living conditions and staring in disbelief at the NO SERVICE NO WI-FI message on your phone. God wants you to enter the Kingdom of Heaven as a child. 

Jesus said the way into Heaven is by a simple and childlike trust and dependence on Him. “Unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will by no means enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matt 18:3) 

How do we do that? Little children are innocent. And let’s face it. We’ve used the words, thought the thoughts, seen the movies, done the deeds. As adults, we lost our innocence long ago. There seems to be no way to gain it back. But Jesus said to enter the kingdom as a child and He will never tell us to do the impossible. We lost our innocence through sin and our only hope to restore that innocence is through Jesus. What robbed us of our innocence when we were young? What are our habits today which reinforce the worldliness that replaced our innocence? Confess, give this to the Lord and ask for His healing in this area.
Little children are born bold and we need to come boldly before God with our prayers and petitions. Do you cry out in boldness to Him or suffer in silence while being proudly self-sufficient? When the diaper is full of poopy, does the baby suffer in silence thinking, I don’t want to bother mom about this little incident–she’s had a rough day... Does the baby sit there with a full load thinking, Somehow I have to figure out how to take care of this myself... No! The baby opens his or her mouth and cries out to mom with a loud, hearty boldness. That’s what God wants us to do. Too many times we suffer alone with our lives full of poopy and not wanting to bother Him about it. We sit there with a full load while trying to figure out how to take care of it ourselves. And, we say in essence: “Sorry God this is too big and messy to trust You with. I’m going to have to handle this one myself.” And God would say, “What part of ‘trust in the Lord with all of your heart’ did you not understand?” (Proverbs 3:5)

By the time we have become an “adult,” we have forgotten how to play. The principle that undergirds our American culture is that work is good and play is bad. Playing is for small children and hard work is for adults. Clowning around at school earns a visit to the principal’s office and levity at work is often frowned upon. Life begins to get painful and those wonderfully fun, playful times you used to have with your loved ones are now just a bittersweet memory. Life itself transforms us from young and playful to old and stuffy. “Become like little children,” says Jesus.

Jesus is saying lighten up (Matt 11:28-30) and receive my kingdom as a child. (Matt 18:3) Not childish and immature, but childlike with your innocence, boldness and a lightness in your heart. Regain your innocence by leaving behind those unhealthy worldly things. Be bold enough to admit that you can’t change your poopy life by yourself and turn to God and trust in Him. And, recapture the playfulness that will keep you young at heart. 

Jesus said you must be as children to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. You don’t want to be the recently deceased Christian curmudgeon who arrives at Heaven’s Gate to see the sign that reads...

1 comment:

  1. The picture of the mature ladies playing hop scotch tells it all--let us be childlike ...