“I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.”
Mark 10:15 NLT
What does it mean to be a child?
The flu hit our household like a well-timed domino effect. First 2-year-old Christian Miles, then 5-year-old Canon Joel, and just as I was getting a handle on their recovery, down I went. I have scrambled this week to contain the situation, but seven days in, I have been sentenced to my room, and the only thing I am allowed to do is write. That. And drink whatever nasty, nasty concoctions my dear husband brings me. I’m afraid my kitchen might look like a mad scientist’s lab. This man is committed to my health.
Life is painful sometimes.
Ok, life is painful right now. And I’m not talking about the flu.
My mom and dad recently resigned the church that they have pastored for the last 11 years. It is the church I grew up in. It’s the place where we have served in ministry since before our kids were born. And despite knowing that they are following the Lord’s leading and it is the right time, it is painful. All of the ‘What if’s” and “What next” questions keep knocking at my door and I just don’t know. Can you relate?
Pain is blinding.
It narrows our vision down to the very thing that is causing the pain and everything beyond that is blurred. Our most natural response is to remove the imposter that is bringing such discomfort.
A couple of weeks ago, my sweet Canon Joel was running and weaving through the church auditorium in the dark and fell face forward onto the stage steps, scraping his chin and shoving one of his front teeth up into his gums. “Shhhhhh,” I whispered and held him as we rushed to the emergency room (there was A LOT of blood). With all of the pain that he was in, what he told me more than once was that he wanted that tooth to come out. Never mind, that the tooth could be restored to its proper place and he wouldn’t have to walk around missing a front tooth for years before the permanent tooth would be ready. He wanted it GONE. Thankfully, the doctors and Dentist could see further past his pain than he could.
Pain leaves us vulnerable.
When we become so fixated on the wound that we favor it above our functioning faculties … Like a person who stubs their toe and in all of the dancing and flailing around, falls and scrapes their arm on the sharp edge of the dining table? Ahem. Just a hypothetical example.
Pain exposes us.
During a painful time in our lives, Micah brought to me a perceptive contemplation: “God already knows our hearts, Kayla. But maybe He is using this to reveal our hearts to us – to show us where our allegiance is.” Ouch. And yes. Pain exposes us. It is in painful times that we have a prime and practical opportunity to walk out the faith that we profess. Are we hearers of the word AND doers? Or hearers only? What does this doing of the word look like, in action? “Bless those who curse you?” What does it look like to bless someone who curses you?
If you do not let the Word of God work itself out in your life, then pain will continue to work itself in – along with bitterness, resentment, distrust – all of the things that will make you doubt the heart of your Father, who loves you.
Pain prompts us.
In our pain, we are either going to move toward the Father or away from Him. When our children are hurt, they come to us. Why? Because they trust us. Because in that moment, we are all they have. This is what it is to be a child.
As we grow into adults, the world offers many artificial anesthetics to pain. We have entertainment, shallow relationships, food, work, a myriad of distractions and addictions.
The Lord gave me something years ago on what it means to be a child. You know the verse – “I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” (Mark 10:15)
We were in a painful time of transition in our lives. There were a lot of questions that could have been asked, a lot of blame that could have been placed. There was an open door for worry and accusation and all-around pity partying. But before all of those voices had an opportunity to have their say, the Father rushed to my side and I heard so still and strong, “Shhhh.” The pain did not go away. My vision was still very narrow. But it was not focused on the problem or the pain – it was focused on my Father.
So I ask again – What does it mean to become like a child? Here is where we enter in to the kingdom. Here is the promise that He will wipe every tear from our eyes. Becoming like a child is this: When the knowledge of and the capacity for the practical application of our faith loses all significance in comparison to the overwhelming – the devastating need to just be in our Father’s arms. It is prioritizing the need to be held above our confidence that everything is going to be ok. Becoming like a child is when now that I’ve finished reasoning and writing everything out – the only thing that sustains me is His voice holding me and saying, “Shhhh”.