How being like a clingy toddler is good

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He (Jesus) called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:2-3 NIV

One summer day when I treated Graham and his little brother to a day at Water Country in Williamsburg, Virginia, Wes got lost.  This experience scarred him for about four years. I had put Graham in charge of his younger brother when they went into the men’s locker room to change.

Seeing Graham coming out alone, I said, “Where’s Wes?” He turned around puzzled then responded, “I thought he was following me.” I quickly sent Graham back. I wasn’t prepared for what he discovered.  This changing facility had TWO entry points.  We figured that Wesleigh must have gone out the other door, which meant that Graham didn’t pay much attention to his brother like I had instructed. Being only five years old, I often placed young Wes under the supposed ‘watchful eye’ of Graham who was ten.

With this news that Wes was nowhere to be found, I panicked, prayed and ran around shouting his name. Even with a security guard helping me it took about fifteen minutes before I spotted my youngest.  He was walking toward me as though coming from the ticket takers. “Wes!!!! Where have you been?” 

This little kid had gone out to the parking lot thinking we had left him alone. I felt horrified just imagining him among the hundreds of cars.

Hugging him tightly, I rejoiced in God’s goodness.  What I didn’t anticipate was the emotional impact this event had on Wes.  He had experienced it as trauma.  For the next few years, each time I dropped him off at school in the morning, he would seek hearty assurance that I would indeed return.  Now a nervous child and fearful of being abandoned, he would press me for an exact time I’d swing by to pick him up.  The waterpark experience had transformed him into a very clingy child.

The other day, pondering Jesus’ words about being as a LITTLE child, I thought of that long-ago experience.  I imagined a three-year old clinging to his daddy’s leg, not wanting to let him leave.  Don’t little ones feel safe when they are in the presence of their parents?  They don’t want to let them out of their sight.

Jesus is teaching us to be like the toddler who needs that constant reassurance. Physical nearness represents safety.

Of course, we want our children to grow up and develop independence.  But what if Jesus doesn’t mean for us to outgrow our need to be that kind of close to him? What if he prefers that we remain children who crave his constant company?

May we retain the best of being a child and stay glued to our savior and older brother.

Get used to uncomfortable!

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But you trusted in your beauty and used your fame to become a prostitute. Ezekiel 16:15 NIV 

I’ve been reading Andrew Murray’s book The True Vine. Earlier this week I came across this strong statement:

“Self-confidence is…..a great evil.”

What do you think?  Do you trust yourself?  Probably for some things you do.  Do you have confidence in some of your natural talents?

We all do, to some extent.  But according to many places in the Bible, that is not God’s way. He doesn’t want us to trust ourselves at all.  We are to put confidence only in him.

If I look back over my life, I can spot the times when the Lord deliberately put me in situations where I had no experience or training to handle the responsibilities. 

The earliest one happened one day when I was a young military intelligence lieutenant.  My boss called me to his office and said: ‘I have a new additional duty for you. You’re to manage our battalion’s budget.  Here’s the file. Call the budget office at headquarters for any help you need.’

Did I have an accounting background?  Not at all! I had majored in foreign affairs and Russian studies.  No problem.  Lieutenants are expected to learn on the job.  And I did. Could I depend on myself?  Nope.

Similar situations followed.  Having a baby was one of those.  I had grown up as an only child AND my mom never allowed me to babysit.  I had zero exposure to babies.  Imagine the hospital handing me and Mike this 2-day old baby.  They never even asked us for proof of training or experience?  More God-directed practice in depending on him. And Graham survived.

One of the most uncomfortable of these God-ordained experiences was when I was hired by a Christian school. NOT to teach French, but to teach US history and government. Okay, that didn’t scare me too much, for I had taken some history courses in college. Not American, though!

What DID rock me were the additional two courses:  Informal Logic for 7th graders and Formal Logic for 8th graders.  I didn’t have a clue to what logic was.  All summer before that school year started, I struggled to study and understand logic. I fumed with frustration.  There was no one to help me.  Was that first year hard? You bet!  Did I cling to Jesus? Without a doubt.

What I am slowly absorbing is that God’s best plan for us is to depend 100 % on him.  But the hard part is that I don’t naturally gravitate to what feels uncomfortable.  I’m seeing that he, in effect, is saying: ‘Get used to uncomfortable!’ Like you, I prefer clinging to my idol of comfort.  In fact, when the next thing on my agenda is the habitual, I don’t even think to depend on Jesus. That framework is sin. Self-confidence is wrong.

Yet, culture blares the opposite message: Believe in yourself!  Trust yourself!

It seems that we are to be more like little children who only ever trust their strong daddy or reliable mommy.  They don’t fake being okay on their own.  As long as their parents are with them, they feel secure.  And they are content. 

I anticipate more ‘adventures with Jesus’ as he keeps training me to lean only on him.

Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children….Matthew 18:3 NLT

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