My morning routine always ends with dropping off my two boys at school and then heading to a good friend's house where my daughter spends the day learning, playing, and laughing. Almost every time I drop her off I am greeted with sweet smiles from the four other little children who attend this toddler party. You might call it daycare, childcare, nannying, friend sitting, or any other common designation, but in reality, it is so much more. Before the customary greetings are shared between friends, there is a two-year-old standing at my feet eager to share the morning's latest news, which usually relates to the toy they are holding or the character displayed on their shirt. I am quick to squat down close to them and intently listen to the jumbled flow of excitement and random facts that come spilling out of their cherub faces.
On one morning in particular, I was warmly embraced by a bright-eyed two-year-old boy, who proceeded to show me a Mickey Mouse blanket he was holding, as if it was his greatest and most prized possession. Then I was directed to watch him as he threw it over his head (which ended each time with roaring laughter). My daughter at that point had enough of watching her daddy give undivided attention to someone else and rushed into my arms for another hug, which is better than all the money in the world, isn't it? I mean unprovoked affection from your children will just melt your heart, won't it? By this time the other kids were also clamoring for my attention, telling stories and showing me the toys they were clutching.
I tell you of my morning routine (quite routine in fact) because although routine, it is anything but common. That moment today struck me as exceptional, mainly because I was reminded of the words of Jesus in Matthew 18 when He was asked about who is greatest in the eyes of God. He responds so powerfully in verse 2:
2 Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. 3 Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. 4 So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.
There is something so alluring and convicting about the way Jesus responds to the human need for stature, for prominence, and for greatness. He points to a child and says - "It's like this!" As He draws out the main point of humility, to an admission of our dependence, to a simplicity and purity of heart I am sure that many in the crowd that day were shocked by how jarring that notion truly is. I caught the sense of what He meant (even if just in part) early this morning while standing in that loud, very crowded entryway, surrounded by the people thought of by Jesus as participants in the kingdom of God.
Maybe as we get older we start seeking the attention reserved for God and look for that attention from our friends, peers, spouses, and coworkers. We want to be noticed, to be seen, to be heard, we want to be recognized for our achievements and our sacrifices and all the while neglect the one thing that is missing...the humility to stand before the only One that inevitably matters most.
As I crouched this morning surrounded by two-year-olds I was reminded that this is how I should be today with my Heavenly Father. Not clamoring for self-importance or prominence, but rather earnestly seeking the attention of the One who not only crouched to hear me better, or to look at the latest 'thing' I am focused on, but the One who clothed himself in humanity to take my place on a cross.
Here is the part that really gets me worked up. I eventually left my daughter and her friends and headed for the office, but our Heavenly Father never leaves that spot, always ready to listen, always eager to hear all that we are thinking and feeling, always poised to show us an extravagant amount of love and devotion. The question then becomes, "are we as eager for His attention?" So let me encourage you with the words of Jesus as He talks about the benefit of coming to Him as a little child just one chapter later in Matthew 19:
13 One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could lay his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him.14 But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” 15 And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left.
Hear the invitation of Jesus to come, for He has an entire kingdom to share with you.
I look forward to seeing you all on Sunday - Bradley