One of the benefits of growing older is getting to be a grandpa, and I am loving the experience that my ten grandchildren are providing for me to be one. Getting to watch them mature, get married (my two oldest grandsons), begin their families and then learning to relate to them as adults has been incredibly enjoyable to me.
As I have gone through each of those steps with them as their grandfather, I have realized that I am not only getting better at this “grandpa job” with experience, but I am also finding it more and more fulfilling. I am discovering that now just “hanging out” with my two youngest grandchildren, watching their enthusiasm, their zest for living, and their limitless joy in everything they do brings tears to my eyes and life to my heart!
They are 13 and 11, have been home schooled exclusively and therefore have yet to encounter anyone in life who doesn’t love them. Yes, they have been kept in a “hot-house,” which is the perfect place wise parents will provide for these tender young plants given to their care as they are just getting started in life. There is plenty of time to learn to face the harsh realities of life out in the fallen world when they are mature enough to handle it.
As I was watching them last week as they spent an afternoon with us at our apartment, playing like the little children they are (neither has sniffed puberty as yet), I remembered Jesus’ words in Mark 10:14, 15 with new insight: “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”
It seems to me that Jesus is saying that if I don’t learn something my grandchildren know intuitively, I will not (“by no means”) enter the Kingdom of God. It doesn’t matter how much I intellectually understand the necessity of God opening my eyes to my sinful condition, my repentance for what he shows me when he does, and then believing God forgives me fully for it—what we have discussed at great length in these postings—unless I become, in some way, just like my grandchildren, I don’t have a chance of entering (experiencing) that kingdom!
What is that intuitive, mysterious quality that little children have that the vast majority of us, as mature adults, have lost? This picture says it all.
I can feel the absolute trust and confidence this little girl has as she nestles secure in her daddy’s arms. She knows he’s got her, fully and completely, and, as a result, she doesn’t have a worry in the world.
Can you see the unbelievable joy and wonder the father feels as he holds her, knowing she is all his, to love, protect, provide for, and give his life for! I remember so well being overwhelmed with that feeling as I gazed down at Adam, my oldest, asleep in his crib as a new-born, his first night home from the hospital. The thought that “He has no one but Jill and me,” overwhelmed me. That scene is permanently burned into my memory. There is nothing like it.
This little girl in the picture has no worries, no thoughts of “What am I going to eat?” “What will I wear?” “Who will make the house payment?” She knows that every difficulty that could possibly come her way, Daddy’s got it! She doesn’t have a worry in the world. From the obvious joy in Daddy’s face over his daughter, it is obvious he will give his life to do so.
This little girl knows nothing—about her daddy’s qualifications to be her father, his history as a father, no understanding of God herself, no life skills to take care of herself, no coping mechanisms to use in difficult times. She knows but one thing; Daddy’s got her, and she can feel his love for her, and she knows he will take care of everything.
This is the attitude toward our Heavenly Father Jesus says is found in all those who experience the kingdom of God, for God Himself has all the qualities that make the little girl’s response in the picture natural and spontaneous. But we don’t always believe that, because our fathers, intended by God to be a demonstration of His relationship with us, have not always been such a model.
Therefore, many of us have no real life father-pattern of stability, trustworthiness, and unconditional love to show us experientially what God is like. As a friend of mine said years ago, “In the midst of the of the pressures, failures, and tragedies of life, ‘Love’s gotta have arms!’”
Most of those who are independent, self-sufficient, fearful, trying to take care of themselves as adults inevitably do, never had the arms of a father to take them up and hold them close to their hearts as this father in the picture is doing. So, telling them that God loves them, and that they are cherished by Him is going to be a tough sell, when no man in their experience ever has. What does that even mean?
If that is our story, our constant prayer is that God would open our hearts to “comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ (the same love as God the Father’s love) which passes knowledge” (Ephesians 3:17, 18).
Do you see the irony in this prayer? Paul is praying that the Ephesians will somehow know what Paul claims they cannot know, a divine conundrum that drives us crazy—unless we are living in the kingdom! Unless we are the little girl, snuggling down in Daddy’s arms, knowing this is nothing I even have to think about, because Daddy’s got me! Lord, make me like this little girl today.