Receiving the Kingdom as a Child
As a child I was the youngest in a large family, and I remember vividly the feeling of being small. One day I came home from school after making what was to me an amazing discovery: When you are writing the letter “t” in cursive, you don't have to cross each “t” individually; you can make one, long stroke and cross all your “t's” at once!
I was startled to find that everyone in my family already knew this.
Then it struck me: No matter what I learned, I would never be able to share something with them that they hadn't already known for years. They had all been alive for so much longer than me. I would never catch up.
As I came to know God more and more, I wanted to share Him with those I loved. But I was still greatly aware of my smallness, my inability to compete in the realm of knowledge. I had no idea what to say that would carry the necessary power.
So I began to pray all the time. In the middle of conversations with my parents, my siblings, my friends, I would be having a simultaneous conversation in my mind with the Lord. I would ask, “Lord, what do you want me to say? What does this person need to hear right now that will help reveal the truth of who You are to them?”
I walked through life like this, looking to Him for His leading in every situation, acutely aware that I had nothing in myself to persuade people of God's love, conscious of the fact that nothing else mattered.
When I came into the church, I was so excited to be with people who understood this way of life, of constantly relying on Him because you know you can't trust in yourself alone. But again and again, I found people who didn't know that, even in His body.
They would say, “God expects us to use the sense He gave us.”
They would ask, “But when you pray, how do you know what His answer is?”
I was baffled. I asked, and then the answer came. Isn't that what we all experienced in Christ? Ask, and it will be given to you, seek and you will find...
Then one day the Lord illuminated this Scripture for me: “Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” (Mark 10:15)
I had been taught that this meant you had to be as innocent as a child to go to heaven. But Jesus wasn't talking about entering heaven when you die, He was talking about receiving the Kingdom. Again and again while He was on earth He said, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” That means it's here.
He was talking about entering His Presence. The veil was torn so we could come into His Presence now. But unless you receive that like a child, you can't enter into it.
It's not that He's rejecting anyone, it's that it's not possible to receive it any other way.
As a child, I understood that I was small and ignorant and had nothing to give anyone unless God gave it to me. I knew I needed something from Him.
I also trusted Him, as the smallest of children trust that they will be given what they need. When they are hungry, they expect they will be given food, not poison. When they cry, they expect to be comforted.
Have you ever tried to be friends with someone who doesn't known how to receive it? If they don't trust you, even your kindness will evoke suspicion. They will misinterpret all of your actions to support their false belief of you.
If a person doesn't trust the food you offer them, if they think it's actually poison, how hard will it be to try to get them eat it?
What the Lord offers us is good. But if we don't know that, we will refuse it. If we don't trust Him, we won't seek what we need from Him. If we think we know better, we will try to accomplish our own will in our own strength for ourselves.
When I asked of the Lord as a little child, I expected to receive the kingdom. His Presence, His help, now. I didn't expect to be ignored.
So when I asked what I should say and then I knew what to say, I accepted that as His answer. When I asked and nothing came to me to say, I assumed I should say nothing.
I didn't assume He was mad at me, or that sometimes He answered and sometimes He didn't.
When I asked for what I had need of, I didn't know what I would receive. I didn't even trust that I knew what I needed. But I trusted Him.
If I didn't fully understand, that didn't bother me. As children we know that the world is a big place, and we don't understand most of it.
If He needed me to understand something, He'd give me understanding. If He needed me to say something, He'd give me words to say. If I didn't have it, I must not need it. Things might not always make sense in the moment, but I trusted that He knew what He was doing. I trusted His character. And that is what positions us to receive the kingdom.