Yesterday was a big day for NFL football fans everywhere. The day the final four teams faced off to determine the AFC and NFC League champions and what two teams will be playing in the Super Bowl in two weeks. Fortunately for me the first game didn’t start until noon, leaving me plenty of time to get to church and keep my new year’s resolution going. Of course yesterday’s church experience was a bit different from the norm, three of the grand kids had spent the night so they got to join us on our church visit. Let me tell you it made for quite an interesting and enlightening moment.
We went to the 10 AM mass and it was packed so we wound up sitting in the ‘baby room’ or what I have always called the ‘crying room.’ I don’t particularly care to sit in the crying room but there were seats available and we did have three kids with us. Actually it was probably the best place for us in case the little one got a restless. After yesterday’s experience I really think they should rename the crying room the ‘activity center’ or the ‘restless room,’ there was actually very little crying just a whole lot of noise and activity.
The last time I sat in the crying room I felt like my whole church visit was a complete waste of time. I couldn’t concentrate on the mass or hear the Homily and felt completely annoyed. This time around it was the same experience. I felt exactly the same way. Kids were making noise, staring out the windows, playing games on cell phones and simply distracting me. Since I couldn’t hear the priest I tried to read from my Daily Devotional Book but found myself reading the same paragraph over and over. To say that I was frustrated would be putting it mildly.
And in that moment as I was thinking about what a colossal waste of my time this was and how much better off I would have been staying at home, a little voice inside me spoke up. You know the voice, you’ve heard it before, some call it the voice of reason, conscience or even the voice of God. And what do you think that voice said to me? Are you ready for this? All at once I heard, “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Wow! Where did that come from? Pretty timely don’t you think?
Suddenly I’m thinking of the story. Local Jews bring a group of children to visit with Jesus. Believing that their Master doesn’t want to be bothered by children they step in but Jesus tells them to let the children come to Him. Then Blam! I hear “Unless you become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
I looked around the crying room at all the little kids and it all made sense. Suddenly all the noise and distraction didn’t matter. These little children are what God wants us to be like. And as I watched those kids I thought about what qualities they possess that we, as adults do not.
Could it be their innocence and wide eyed sense of wonder? It could, but I knew as I watched them with their parents or siblings that it is more than that, it is their unfailing trust that God wants all of us to possess. A child trusts over and over again, with arms wide open and a smile on his face. Can we say the same about ourselves. Do we trust as completely and wholesomely as a little child? If your answer is no, then you have a ways to go to gain the kingdom of God. Trust is a personal choice, a personal decision based on your relationship with God. Can you trust as completely as a child?
Or, are you road weary and full of doubt from all of your life experiences? Has life’s journey taken its toll and hardened you and made you bitter and full of doubt? Does your life feel unfulfilled and your prayers unanswered? Life can do that to us, if we let it, but it is our duty to trust God implicitly. Jesus told doubting Thomas as he tell all of us: “be not faithless, but believing”. Do you believe? If you find that you are out of sorts and harbor doubts that are keeping you from being truly child-like, then, now is the time to make changes in your life and relearn to trust as a child trusts. Only by doing so will we be saved. It’s our choice. It’s the right choice.