1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” Matthew 18:1-3
A soothing cicada hum steams out of tall grass and into shimmering sunset. At a whopping nine years old I am nearly a foot taller than the tallest grass, but what should be a reassuring fact soon grants me the realization that the grass is over half my height.
What little I can see suddenly appears to be a blanket covering a world of unknown. My left foot lifts forward. I hesitate before plunging it into the depths of whatever may be lurking in this forbidden world. My feet shake the e.n.t.i.r.e. earth with every step. My humongous presence crashes through the thick wall of grass and I am certain I will soon die of a snake bite to the ankle because every creature in this place knows I am an outsider. I shouldn’t be here.
Crossing the creek in the ditch marking our backyard property line was dangerous enough. Climbing my way out of the ditch I had nearly fallen into the creek below twice. Upon reaching the barbed wire fence, it’s safe to say the barbed wire wasn’t my only warning. Carefully sliding through the sharp, rusty metal left me with a cut I was sure to hide from my mother, and in doing so I would probably soon contract tetanus as retribution for my rebellious actions. But … this had to be done. We had lived on Cobblestone Lane my entire life and I still had never seen what lay beyond the fence.
My daydreams of childhood often involve cicadas and crickets, magnolia trees and horse fields. Moments of life so carefree my only worry was the chiming of a dinner bell and on rare occasions, the trampling of a horse when I crossed the forbidden barbed wire fence. I think back to those moments when I think of childlike faith. When sneaking through a barbed wire fence meant dreading the end of my world as I knew it. When the guilt of hiding my barbed wire decision from my parents would seep through me for a total of ten gruesome minutes before I beat myself up so harshly about my awful, terrible, rebellious behavior that when I tattled on myself my parents would hide laughter as they scorned me for disobeying them. That is childlike faith. Raw, Whole-hearted, Emotional, and Repentant.
Those were the days of innocence. Those are the days God wants us to remember. Childlike faith means relying on God with such faith that I know dinner will be on the table when the dinner bell rings. Childlike faith means obeying God with everything, and confessing to God when we are in the wrong. God knows when we ventured beyond the barbed wire fence just to see what was there knowing all along it was wrong. Because let’s be honest, my parent’s watched me climb through the barbed wire fence just as God watches us when we take an enticing path He has forbidden. He wants us to return to Him and confess our awful, terrible, rebellious behavior. He wants us to know that He makes all things new, all souls clean, all sins forgiven, if only we return to Him with childlike faith.