But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and 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.”
(Luke 18:15-17 ESV)
Hendric has this foam "Jesus" book that has been chewed on for months and we have been missing all of the pull-outs since the week he got it. But he loves loves to sit and read it --it's among his chosen favorites as a bed-time story. There is nothing hugely profound in it...just a book with the few token "Jesus loves children" verses accompanied by cartoon Jesus pictures. Whenever I read it to him, and we come to the last page, there is a picture of Jesus with his arms spread around children opposite a little girl sitting beneath the tree. For weeks I have been asking Hendric where Jesus was on that page, and without fail he points to the little girl or the tree.
Just this morning, Eric and I were playing with him and I told Eric that I am going to try to get Hendric's next distinguishable word to be "Jesus." He joked that it would probably sound a lot like "cheese" (a staple in Hendric's vocabulary) or "chia" (he hasn't learned this one quite yet :) ). Just to prove us wrong, Hendric walks over to the cover (which has long since been ripped from the remaining pages) of the "Jesus book" (with a giant smiley cartoon Jesus on the front), picks it up, and clearly says "Je-sus." His parents could not have been prouder!
It got me thinking about the recognizability of Jesus. Now don't get me wrong, I don't honestly think Hendric knows exactly who Jesus is or that he had some salvation experience. And I certainly don't think that Jesus looks anything like the white cartoon man in the book.
But I have always wondered what the exact meaning of "receiving the Kingdom of God like a child" actually meant. Am I doing that? I don't have a seminary degree, so I could be way out in left-field. However, the more I study Scripture I am convinced that when children had an encounter with Jesus they KNEW without a shadow of a doubt who He was. There was no questions in their mind, they didn't worry about what others thought about Him or them. All they knew was that this man loved them. Them in that moment. Them in that life.
I often wish I could get to this acceptance. Yes, I whole-heartedly believe that Christ is my Savior and King. He is my loving Father who loves me for who I am and leads me to who I should and can be.
But do I live this out on a daily basis? I can't say that I do. If I did, I wouldn't have the nagging fears and doubts about my ability as a wife and mother. Instead, I would rely on the strength He gives me. I wouldn't look at myself in the mirror and see inferiority and worthlessness. Instead I would see a beautiful daughter of the one and only King.
Self-image has always been a struggle of mine and it is one I am sure I will be working through my entire life. But I do know that when I take God at His Word (as children do) I am a different person. The shouts of self-doubt Satan hurls at me are distant whispers. I am able to see that I am the new creation God made me to be. What an amazing picture of God's love to know that in this moment, who I am right now...I am loved. By the Creator and Savior of the Universe.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:7–8
How precious is your steadfast love, O God! Psalm 36:7