I went to a shoe store recently. A father walked by with his toddler daughter in his arms. She caught my eye and waved. I waved back. Then she blew me a kiss, and I blew one back. She and her father disappeared into the warehouse of footwear possibilities while I disappeared into a spin of thought.
The world has not taught that little girl yet that she is not welcome everywhere she goes. When little children run into the arms of people, they do so because they assume the other will be glad to see them. The confidence of a child is a gorgeous sight.
But there will be a day when someone will not return her wave or her kiss. There will be a day when someone will grimace or ignore. And she will start to learn our world is broken and will treat her as such. Confidence will erode. She will learn to “test the waters” before throwing herself into someone’s life with unfettered joy and a smile.
Not only did the little girl wave and blow me a kiss because the world has not soiled her yet but because she was in her father’s arms. She may not have greeted me with such a sense of safety had she not been lifted high above the shoe shelving or been against the flesh of her father.
From within her father’s arms, she could love me freely…a complete stranger. Had I not returned her greeting, she would have felt the sting of being shunned but would have had his instant assurance that she was loved. His presence would have provided immediate comfort and security.
God’s Beating Heart
Dane Ortlund, author of Gentle and Lowly, says it this way:
It is one thing, as a child, to be told your father loves you. You believe him. You take him at his word. But it is another thing, unutterably more real, to be swept up in his embrace, to feel the warmth, to hear his beating heart within his chest, to instantly know the protective grip of his arms. (p. 122)
Our Child-like Faith
It’s from this last vantage point that I best understand Matthew 19:4: Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” May we all protect our child-like faith! There is such a thing as growing up too much. As our bodies age and our faith matures, child-like faith can remain intact. As an adult, we can still live as little children with our heavenly Father. From the safety of our Father’s arms, like the sweet little girl, we can offer our love from the start without fear. We can love strangers and enemies as He commands. We can reflect God’s love to a watching world.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone. Try some corned beef and cabbage on March 17.
© 2022 by Oaks Ministries. All rights reserved.