Today’s reading is 1 Samuel 4-6 and Luke 18:1-23.
People brought babies to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. When the disciples saw it, they shooed them off. Jesus called them back. “Let these children alone. Don’t get between them and me. These children are the kingdom’s pride and joy. Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.” – Luke 18:15-17
I love being a dad. It is a hoot and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. However, there are the times when you wish you had a double and your copy could take over for a bit. I remember one instance where my youngest son was having a difficult day. Well, I say difficult not because he wasn’t having fun but his actions weren’t giving me any rest. I actually think I’m reaping what I sowed in childhood because I loved, LOVED to pester my sister. I was king little annoyances. I would stand as close to her room as I could when I was told not to enter. I speak nonsense to her while she was attempting to speak to friends on the phone. I did the imfamous, “I’m not touching you. You can’t get mad.” dance while my pointer finger came within millimeters of her forehead. I’m surprised that she grew up to be such a patient person and that she doesn’t have a nervous tick.
One particular day my youngest son was tormenting the living daylights out of his older siblings as they sat on our comfy couches in the living room. The older children just wanted to loose themselves in Saturday morning cartoons before mom and I demanded that chores be completed for the day. The little guy went first to his oldest brother and banged his head on his lap. STOP IT. The tiny tot then went to his sister and jumped into her lap. GET OFF OF ME. The last round found him getting in front of his middle brother and yelling as loud as he could into his brother’s ear. CUT IT OUT. He took the time to giggle between each persuit and made the rounds again. Eventually, dad’s ears could no longer take the loud cries of the tormented siblings. I marched with purpose into our living room and demanded audience with my smallest child. Everything had been rainbows for him that morning that my voice caught him off gaurd. He suddently almost appeared to come to his senses and replay his actions in his head. He sulked over to me and listened to my lecture. Before long hysterical tears were streaming down him face. The neat part of the situation is that he wanted me, the discipliner, to comfort him. He held out his arms and through sobs asked for a hug.
In this verse that I spent time on for the day I see Jesus a lot in this situation. My son trusts me enough that even though he is in trouble, even though I’m yelling at him, he still trusts me so much that I’m still a source of comfort for him. Can you imagine how in love we would be with Jesus if we would simply recognize Him as the protector, provider, and lover of our whole being? I wish I could say that when God is disciplining me that I could turn right to Him with my arms held out and say “I’m sorry. Can you hold me now daddy?”
Another part to this equation that I cant’ help ponder over are children that have been damaged in their home life. These are kids that have had to go through trauma and grow up too quickly. There are many ways that foster/adoptive children have lost their simple faith because adults have taken away their innocence. For example my adopted daughter was malnurished from birth to around age three. The adults didn’t find food for her. She was responsible for scouting her environment for food. Thus, rusty bed springs, animal feces, and make-up became snacks for her. This broke her trust in adults. The ones that were supposed to be worrying about her survival and taking care of her were not. In her mind she had to take control of the stearing wheel. Even in our home where she knows where the refrigerator and cabinets stocked with food are, she still doesn’t quite trust that the adults are going to look out for her. I will say that she is healing and the situation is getting much better. We don’t have to lock up my wife’s make-up as often as we did and we trust that she will make mud pies without eating them. However, it is sad that this idea of simple faith that Jesus was prizing so much could be damaged.
How does that translate into the spiritual world? I think of a person that so much wants to believe in something but they see Christians debating or gossiping with each other on facebook. They see good people, Christian people posting horrible and critical comments on a website about people groups that tend carry stigmas against them in the church. They see Christians gather together on Sunday morning with the same friends they have always had and they don’t venture our to accept someone new into their group. These people are single moms, couples whose marriages are on the rocks, people that suffer with depression, at risk children – their ability to have simple trust is hurt by life but sometimes also by the church. My adopted daughter is healing. With stability and unconditional love many things are possible. How would Christ as that the church heal people? How accepting are you of other individuals? Where do we go from here?