Many years ago I was leading the Wednesday night prayer meeting at our church. My little girl Beth, only two years old, was sitting on the floor beside my chair. She was busy playing with her toys as the group was sharing various prayer requests. When it came time to pray I caught her attention to remind her to play quietly because we were going to pray.
To my surprise she cleared her little throat and began her little two year old prayer, “Dear Jesus ...” Apparently what she heard was her daddy asking her to pray. I almost cried. It was the most beautiful, innocent thing I’d ever heard!
At that age children can be fearless. Their experience is small and their faith is big. Unfortunately, as we get older, our experience is big and our faith is small. No wonder Jesus challenged his would-be followers that “unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3).
It seems to me that entering the kingdom of heaven might be a good priority! So, in what ways can we become like little children so that we too can enter? What are some child-like qualities that we could use more of in our adult lives?
First on the list has to be trust. Children are absolutely dependent on adults because they’re learning everything about life, things like swimming or riding a bike. They’re leaning about how things work and if they don’t know they ask a lot of questions. Research shows that children ask an average of 73 questions a day (half of which parents struggle to answer). For these reasons, children cannot help but trust in others – especially parents and other people in roles of authority. Adults need to learn how to trust our heavenly Father more in all of life’s situations.
Second, we can be more joyful. When I was in grade one I remember heading to the little corner grocery store with my mom. It was very small with a total of three aisles for your shopping convenience. While there I saw another grade one student with her mom getting groceries. I don’t think we even talked to each other. There was, however, plenty of laughter and joy as the two of us chased each other up and down the aisles. We adults need to be more joyful.
Third, we could have a bigger sense of wonder and awe. When’s the last time you looked up at the stars at night? Mary Paleologos says this: “If you want to witness a natural display of a sense of wonder, just observe a child. A child's whole world is viewed through the eyes of wonder and excitement. A child has no judgements of why things are so, but rather a child is in awe and views life through innocence, purity and curiosity.” Again, it wouldn’t hurt us grown-ups to slow down enough to enjoy the wonder of it all.
There are so many qualities that children have that adults could use more of. Children are playful, cry without being embarrassed about it, have amazing imaginations, are quick to forgive, and seem to possess an unending hope that things will get better.
I think we can all agree that we would be better followers of Jesus and that the world be a better place if we adults would rediscover some of these child-like qualities. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to my sandbox!