I hear this phrase a lot. But one I’ve personally never used to refer to babysitting or keeping children. Watching them was not something I considered the essence of the assignment. I don’t know. I don’t think that just to hover over a child and observe them would be worthy of the job. Anyway. Recently I heard the phrase again and so I decided to really watch children to see what the phrase is all about.
One group of kids I observed, obviously on a school field trip, seemed to find joy in something as simple as walking. Even in a straight line. With the teacher (the mama duck) ahead, the little ones were obeying the rules of following in single file. However, each “duckling” had his or her own style of walking. Some skipped, some twirled, some stepped over cracks in the sidewalk. Some even walked backwards. I remember asking myself. When did I lose the sheer joy of just…walking? At my age, I consider walking a chore rather than a pleasure.
In this group of children, I saw no one who seemed to be anxious about who was going to pay for the outing or who was going to transport them safely home. Someone older, and perhaps, more responsible, had made all of the arrangements. The leader’s main chore was to keep up with her charges, often counting heads and reminding them to stay with the group. This configuration had incorporated a buddy system, giving each child a little responsibility, but only for one other person.
Paul writes to the people of ancient Corinth these words, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put aside childish things.” (1 Corinthians 13: 11). Here Paul is alluding to childishness as immaturity and carelessness. An unsavory trait.
But Matthew recorded this: Jesus… “called a small child and had him stand among them. ‘Truly I tell you,’ he said, ‘unless you turn and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’” (Matthew 18:2) And innocence and trust that will usher one into the Kingdom of God.
Childish behavior is wanting our own way, dishonoring those in authority, and dismissing the consequences of our actions. But childlikeness? Oh, this involves trusting Him who is in charge and finding joy in everyday things.
A few years ago I wrote this.
Of Such Is the Kingdom
He dances with joy on a summer day
He sings with “heart” the songs of play
He laughs at every rhyme he makes
Because he is a child….
She skips to tunes she feels inside
She patiently counts the stars at night
She never tires of asking why
Because she is a child….
So I wanna dance
I wanna sing
I wanna laugh
I wanna be
Like the little child again.
I wanna run into my father’s arms
The one I trust with all my heart
Of such is the kingdom
The Kingdom of God.
Watch the children. They might teach you something that will change your life, or they will at least remind you of things you already know.