Yesterday #3 in the ever changing Arp gaggle of children had oral surgery to correct some of the issues he came into our home with. This amounted to four extractions and ten crowns. And for any and all of us who have ever had dental work done, we all just grimaced a bit. But that was the crazy thing about #3…he bounced back so fast. Sure he was groggy and a bit whiny for the first couple of hours, but by the time he got to church last night he was running with the other kids. My wife commented on this to our childcare worker and her response was incredible. “I don’t think kids focus on the pain as much. As we get older we tend to focus on the pain more. Kids just want to play.”
What an incredible thought. I wonder if this was a bit of what Jesus was thinking during his encounter with the disciples and children. We all know the story at least on some level. But Matthew records it this way, “He 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 18:3-4 You see, that’s the thing about little kids. They are singularly focused. They have a job to do and that is to enjoy every possible moment of play that is afforded them. Even if they did just have four teeth pulled and ten teeth drilled down and capped. I for one would probably be laid up for a week if I had to go through that.
Now as Christians we have an amazing hope that we cling to. In Revelation 21 we read this, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” – Revelation 21:4 What an incredible promise; what a hope! But that hope is not for the here and now. In fact, there is no promise of the cessation of pain or discomfort in this life. We will struggle, we will get hurt, we will have pain, we will cry…but I wonder if we handle this like adults or if we handle it like children. Have you ever found yourself saying to a child that they need to “grow-up and deal with it?” Maybe we have this all backwards. Maybe we need to hurt or feel pain in the moment like a child, but not let that hurt or pain dictate the rest of our day/week/month/year. There is living (playing in child terms) to be done. There is life to be enjoyed, God’s gifts to be shared and a gospel to be lived out. There may be pain for a season, but it can’t be our focus. For we have a hope that one day it will end and so for the time being, we embrace life like a child and focus on better things. May your focus grow more childlike today as you pursue the Kingdom of God come to earth.