“And they were bringing the children to Him that He might touch them,…”
This is what the hard-working man read to us as he was sprawled out on the off-white carpet, the rest of us gathered ‘round in half-circle, listening… some following along in Mark, tenth chapter. We’d been camped out for weeks in the book of Mark during family worship each evening, taking it in slow and small and steady.
“…and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it He was indignant…”
And the hard-working man stopped for a word lesson. Little mouths repeated syllables and simple definitions were explained.
Jesus was angry.
“… and said to them ‘Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the Kingdom of God.’”
The Daddy sitting Indian-style looked up at eager faces. “Now, who was bringing these children to Jesus?”
Voices erupted: “their parents”… “their mamas and their daddies”
“That’s right,” he said. “And why do you think they were doing that? What did they want Jesus to do?”
There was a thoughtful pause. Like we had never thought of that before.
What exactly do we want Jesus to do when we bring our kids to Him?
The blue-eyed girl with glasses spoke up, “they wanted Him to touch them.”
She’d read it herself, right there in her pink Bible.
“Right.” Her Daddy grinned. “So when Jesus touched them, how do you think He did it? Did He touch them like this?”
He motioned for the little blonde boy to come to him, so Carson walked up, eye-to-eye. And his Daddy poked him on the shoulder. “Did Jesus touch them like that?”
The room shook a little with giggles.
“Well, how then?”
Lilly jumped up, “like this!” She walked on her knees to her brother’s side. Pressed her cheek right up against his. Wrapped her arms around him… another sister walked up and put her hand lovingly atop his blonde head.
And my smile snuck up on me. Yes, that’s it. Just like that. So natural. How did they instinctively know this?
“Yes,” he said. “But Jesus’ disciples didn’t want the kids to bother Jesus. Maybe they thought He didn’t have time for this, so they tried to stop the children. They might have told those parents, ‘take your kids away; don’t let them bother the Teacher.’”
There may have been some finger-wagging.
“But what did Jesus say?” he asked.
“Let the children come to me!” said Maggie.
“Yes!” he said.
“… Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it…”
He leaned in for the question.
“What does that mean- receive God’s Kingdom like a child?”
They didn’t know. Do any of us?
“Let me show you,” he said. “Bring me one of Olivia’s toys.”
A lovie was fetched and he turned his attention to the little one toddling ten feet away from him. He called out to her, and showed her his little gift.
Honestly, could it have been a more magical moment? Like she must have seen a little bit of Jesus Himself sitting right there with her Daddy and the rest of us wore eyes of the blind. When she turned around and looked at him, the giddiest giggle escaped her smiling lips, her face all lit like that… Instantly she abandoned what had been holding her attention and she ran to him.
She giggled the whole way. Mouth wide open grin. Arms thrown back. Face to the Heavens.
My heart warmed.
Is this how you want us to come to you God? Like this? This is how we should receive all that you give us? All of it? With Abandon.
It’s a rare thing when we call one of our children and they come to us like this.
Rarer still that I go to Him like that.
Why have I robbed Him of that?
And when did I stop taking Him seriously when He said stuff like “whoever doesn’t receive the Kingdom this way shall not enter it”?
How many years have I just breezed over that part?
I want His Kingdom, for sure. Count me in! Called, chosen, forgiven, right?
Highway to Heaven, Baby.
I believed and received. I prayed the prayer and got baptized and now my mansion is waiting for me in Heaven. I’ll walk the streets of gold with Jesus and have a little Heaven on earth, too, because Jesus makes life better, sweeter, right?
All my troubles…. fade away?
Was this the Kingdom of God or My Kingdom we were talking about? It got a little fuzzy.
I got all caught up in my little blessed life and my super-awesome worship team and I forgot that Jesus said stuff like, “I’m sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves… and you will be hated by all for my Name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 10:16, 22)
Say what? I was kinda thinking I could just have the good life. Did I temporarily forget Jesus saying something like “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword…” ?(Matthew 10:34)
Maybe while I was enjoying my lattes at my 132 different Bible studies designed just for me and my season of life– maybe that’s when I got comfortable and didn’t think it really pertained to me very much when He said “whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew10:38-39)
When I started out on the journey to “seek first His Kingdom, and all these things shall be added unto you”, was I just seeking God so that I could have the second part – all these things?
Wait. I know this stage… it rings familiar… these are growing pains I’ve experienced from the other side…
When some of my bigger kids were sweet toddlers they would run to me, cling to me… long to be held by me… reach up their arms to me… in the same way that that sweet baby now presses her face into my knee when I’m standing in a crowd… and she wraps those chubby arms tight around my legs… and then she looks up at me, those eyes piercing, and says determined, “ma ma!” She knows I will stop whatever I’m doing and pick her up. It’s her reward for seeking me out and calling my name.
And that’s all she wants – for me to pick her up, and she rests her head on my shoulder. Happy. She has absolutely nothing to offer me. No work that is handy or useful. Even her attempts at helping just make more work for me. She has no real offering of love or devotion. Not even a promise voiced.
She is utterly dependent on me for everything and all she gives in return is all of herself. Her laughter, her cries…. her messes, her smiles. Uninhibited. And she comes to me only wanting me.
My bigger kids did this too… until they were bigger… and then their want for Mama’s safe arms was slowly replaced by a want for things. For a toy, a book, an activity.
But I’ll always miss them longing for just me.
Now I’m the child. And He’s the Father. And how long has it been since my face pressed in, determined?
How long since I longed?
“And He took them in His arms, and laying His hands on them, He blessed them.”