Deep breath in. And out. Again. And then read out loud:
28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”Matthew 11:28–30 (NLT)
A couple of weeks ago, I volunteered to be a driver for our youth snow day. It felt good to take time away from my normal work to provide transportation for our students. I did all of the “adult” things in preparation: fueled up, made arrangements for my regular responsibilities and of course, got my own children out the door with adequate clothing to have fun in the cold!
It is a serious thing to take responsibility and to be an adult chaperone. Little did I know the childish day that was ahead of me. Upon arriving at Hoodoo with dozens of students, our youth pastor Trish Bliss made sure I had a tubing ticket. Adult Isaac walked some students over to the tubing area to take some pictures and to encourage the kids to have fun. Then I trudged up the hill. My son asked me if I was going to go down the hill. I answered soberly, “Owen, I am not a young man anymore. I will enjoy watching the rest of you.”
I should probably do something adult-like—check the oil or check my email…
Even to serious-minded-adult Isaac, the joy on everyone’s faces was contagious. As rider after rider squealed with delight careening down the hill, my adult-ish mindset wore off.
I grabbed a tube. No oil to check. No plan other than GO.
And I zipped down the hill!
I popped up grinning and skipped the line for the rope tow to the top. Almost running up the hill, I was in an instant a child again. Head first, feet first, racing others, 23 times I ascended the hill with no rope tow for those few seconds of child-like Bliss. (Thank you Trish!)
By my count, I went up and down that hill more than anyone else. I played. I enjoyed. I delighted. I was de-adulted for a day.
Towards the end of the message on Sunday, I mused a bit about Jesus’ invitation to be like a child to inherit his Kingdom:
2 Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them.Matthew 18:2–4 (NLT)
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.
I am thinking about this scene. While the adults would have been a bit ruffled, a child would’ve easily adjusted to this new normal. It has been said that children are resilient. Children do not have the capacity to evaluate or reason with the world. They simply experience what is given to them. It is only later with adult brains that children begin to differentiate their childhood experiences from the experiences of those around them.
Young adults then critique their childhood—utilizing newly formed brain power to more objectively evaluate and analyze their experiences. This is why many college students return home with big opinions about their family of origin. Children, on the other hand, generally accept their lives and thrive with how it is.
In many ways, it feels so good to become an adult—more responsibility, more autonomy and more ability to control our lives.
But, the trade off is significant. A child growing in a healthy environment has responsibility, but isn’t “in charge”. Complex or sophisticated problems are handled by parents. Upon becoming an adult, however, the “ex-child” now wears the weight of responsibility and control.
Maybe we aren’t created to be in charge? Maybe becoming child-like is the yoke that Jesus is inviting to wear?
Back to the scene: Jesus takes this child and says to the serious adults, “turn from your sins” and “become like the child”. To which sins is he referring? Perhaps he is pointing out the sin of “being in charge” of our own lives. Perhaps it is the sin of having opinions about what life owes us or what rights we have. Perhaps it is the sin of not enjoying the moments we have because we’re too busy getting ready for the next moment.
Today, consider your attitude. Do you accept life like a child or are you overly-concerned with being the ‘person in charge’?
Write out a prayer inviting the Holy Spirit to lead you towards being child-like again.