On Tuesday of this week our local community had a jazz concert on the lawn of the library with a local non-profit fair type of thing. I was asked to set up a booth. It was a great opportunity to share with people a little bit about what I get to do on this earth and hopefully spread some encouragement and love their way! All of the conversations were so beautiful, but one specifically stuck out to me. It was with an elderly woman who was a cute little firecracker I tell ya! I ended up driving her home where she asked if I wanted to come in so she could play me a little tune on the piano. After she played "Jesus loves me", in the most childlike manner... I thought to myself, "this woman gets it." Most might just say she was old and a little crazy... but I say she has a special place in the Father's heart. She asked if I wanted to come in and hang out with her... but sadly I had to go. Before I left I asked her how old she was and she sat there for a few minutes looking up with her finger tapping her lip trying to decide if she was in her 60's, 70's, or above. She said... "well... i've got a piece of paper somewheres in here that tells me". Oh man.... it was the cutest thing I've ever seen! Finally she just said... "well, i dunno hon... i must be well up in my 80's by now." Haha!!!! So great! Not only did she not know her age, but she really didn't care. To her it was just a number and she was a living, breathing, active, loving soul inside of that wrinkly old shell of hers!
Not till I entered adulthood did I really realize the kingdom of heaven was attainable before I pass on from this earth. I guess I had always assumed Jesus was talking about the place we go when we die... but after reading the gospels many times over it's become quite clear what message He was proclaiming. Alongside all the kingdom talk Jesus speaks a lot of His love for children. Even as adults we are God's kids... but there are certain characteristics that define a child that I think are a blessing to our Father as we acquire them at any age :) And when we do step into the kingdom, it's almost as if we are dipping our toes in the fountain of youth- accepting that our eternal worth starts now....not just when we die.
My neighbor said something profoundly simple the other day that really hit me differently this time. This is the cliff notes version: "I AM not my age, it REALLY is just a number... and my body is a house for this eternal soul." He may have not said it just like that... but that's what I heard in the moment. And for the first time I truly felt age-less (and i didn't even need a revlon cream to help!). Sure our bodies will age since we live in a fallen world with temporary bodies; but our mind, soul and spirit doesn't have to. For some reason we tend to equate maturity with a less faith /more reality kind of composure. We sometimes think (believe me, i've been there) that we must "grow up" and be strong, independent, self-reliant, successful, respected and intellegent. It's not that these are wrong... it's just that it becomes easier to trust in ourselves than to depend on God (or even other people). And when we fail, boy... do we beat ourselves up. When others fail us? Well... our grace runs thin.
What if we truly saw our bodies as a vessel for the Lord and treated children with the same respect as an adult or elderly person... not because they did something to deserve it, but because we are all broken human beings in desperate need of God! And when our expectations of others are shattered, or we fail ourselves, or we don't think someone deserves OUR respect... maybe we could see that we all just need more freedom and healing from a God who is big enough to give it. It's funny how each of us think the world owes us honor and respect to a certain degree... like we have special "rights" because of age, status, paid dues, prestige, degrees, or money. When if we truly begin to see with a child's eyes... none of that matters. If you look closely on the public playground you'll see that most of the time they are all playing with each other no matter race, money, intelligence, or status. We, as adults, are the ones who begin making that unfortunate distinction and separation. The harder we work in life the more we deserve, right? Well.... if we really got what we deserve we'd all be in a heap of trouble. Thank God He saved us... literally.... from ourselves.
Most of the time children are over-looked; especially children with nothing to give. Jesus emphasizes the importance of little children again and again in His word. I think it's time we begin to take notice. First of all, a child is a gift and should be treasured highly. They should be loved and nurtured and listened to. Why? Well one reason is they have not yet been tainted by the world. They are, however, vessels who are in need of a Savior. YOU are that representative until they make the decision for themselves. They can teach us so much through their inhibitions to life and fearless dreams. Not a worry in their mind or a scar on their heart- they play long, love hard, and live fully!! So, listen to their sweet small voice... and find your innocence again. There IS a child in all of us...
A cool story about listening to His voice and waiting: A few weeks ago, as I mentioned in a previous blog, some friends of mine purchased my ticket for new zealand for me. I needed it quickly (didn't have the money) and God told me to wait. They called that day and took care of it. Wow. So then I knew I was going to have to buy a ticket from Little Rock to LA to catch that flight. I checked on prices two weeks before my flight (last Sunday) and the price was $200 with tax. Not bad really. But for some reason I felt like God told me to wait and not buy it. So I waited. The next morning I woke up and it was $300 with tax. Shoot! I wondered if I had really heard God wrong??? But instead He told me to keep waiting and trust. So I did. Today a friend of mine found miles that someone had given him awhile back that He had never used. He transferred them and I paid only $80 in fees!!!! Wow. Seriously... God is very cool. Even if I would've had to pay $300 there is no doubt that God would've taken care of me, and He's cool regardless of what happens.... but I'm celebrating His goodness and provision tonight!!! Yahoooo!!!
B90: (Mark 1- 10:34) There are two main verses I'd like to reflect on in this section... although there is so much more value in this book that would be good to dig deeper into on your own. Like I said above, my perspective on the kingdom began to shift a few years ago. After re-reading all of what Jesus speaks of the kingdom I came to my own conclusions that really helped me live more fully for Him in every moment. I see how when we step into the kingdom of heaven on earth we truly become the living breathing representatives of Christ with a different mindset than others who don't see with those eternal eyes yet.
"Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me." ~ Jesus as told by Mark in Ch. 9: 37. There's something about getting down eye level with a child. It's almost as if they begin to not only hear what you say but inherit the character in which you say it. Jesus also speaks a lot about character throughout the gospels, but more than that... he lives it. Character is learned by what we see, hear, observe, and attain. Sometimes we wonder why children don't listen to what we say (or yell) when they are actually watching (sometimes mimicking) your character and responding to that rather than the words. I'm often curious as to why we hold a much higher value to the obtaining of knowledge rather than character. We even occasionally hire people within the church according to their degree rather the quality in which they treat the lowly, poor, dirty, and broken people of the world. I think it'd be a great idea for anyone the church hired to put them mopping the floors for a few months or working in with the little ones. Then you can clearly see if this is something they live by.... "but many who are first will be last, and the last first." Mk 10:31
"Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it." Mark 10:14
One of the things I love about my mom: for those of you who do not know her... she's been in charge of the preschool department of our home church for a few years now. There are always ups and downs, but I've seen her character grow in so many ways. I love that when there is a child who is giving them trouble my mom stoops down, talks to them with respect and love, and prays with/for them. Almost always God's power moves through the child which handles the situation with such love and care. She has many more stories like this one, but she probably wouldn't share them with you unless she was giving God some major glory time! Yet another reason why I love her :)
I want to enter the kingdom of God as a child... everyday. The children are standing at the gate; waiting for us to love, cherish, care, and invest in them all that God has graciously given us!