When I’m not serving in the worship team at Kerith Community Church, one of my favourite areas to volunteer is in the children’s ministry – in particular with children aged between three and four. I’m a complete pushover when it comes to children of that age; they have grown to a point where they can sustain conversation, but not so much that that conversation actually makes sense. It’s hilarious! Their innocent imaginations run wild and they are interested in such simple things. It’s fantastic! I’m very excited about being a dad more because I know that I’ll have my own three year old at some point than anything else. I can’t wait!
I am fortunate to have some really strong relationships with families who have children in that age range. I love going for dinner at their houses and reveling in all the silliness that I imagine some parents take for granted when constantly exposed to it. Yesterday, I popped into to see the Cottee family and their daughter’s fourth birthday party. It was manic! The girls were dressed up as princesses and the boys were knights along with a real princess and knight (Tom and Sophie) – sword fights, pin the lantern on the princess (go figure), musical statues, pass the parcel and hide and seek filled the ever-so-unimportant itinerary. It’s fascinating watching the care-free enthusiasm from these children as they run around screaming and shouting, imagining and playing together. I defy anyone not to feel a tug on the heartstrings at these little guys playing so happily together.
My time at the Cottee’s house yesterday reminded me of this passage in the Bible:
At about the same, the disciples came to Jesus asking, “Who gets the highest rank in God’s kingdom?” For an answer Jesus called over a child, whom he stood in the middle of the room, and said, “I’m telling you, once and for all, that unless you return to square one and start over like children, you’re not even going to get a look at the kingdom, let alone get in. Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom. What’s more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it’s the same as receiving me.” (Matthew 18:1-5, The Message)
Am I pursuing God with the innocence that these children showed today? Definitely not. I’m consumed by my ambitions and my selfish issues. I live a life on comparison rather than a life of simple enjoyment of the things I have. I don’t simply revel in the abundance of God’s grace anywhere near as much as I should. But the image of possibly one of the cutest children’s parties ever will stick with me as a reminder to strip all the complicated things away from my life when it comes to God. Simple, honest, heartfelt, childlike worship is what’s required of me. Nothing more. Now, where’s my Spiderman costume…