It was a throwaway remark, but it formed the basis for one of my earliest impressions.
I was a four-year-old, at a five-year-old’s birthday party. My own five-year milestone was just around the corner. I was sitting on my mother’s lap, as I often liked to – especially in uncomfortable social situations like these. As I nuzzled up there, an adult looked down at me and made the comment: “When you turn five, you won’t be able to sit on your mummy’s lap any more!”
At that moment, something in me sank. I took him literally.
So you turn five, and comfort and nurture gets thrown out the window. Is that how it works? My mum’s lap was a place of refuge in an often scary world. And this right – this peace – would be taken away. Very soon.
And from that moment on, I really didn’t want to grow up.
In fact, I avoided the normal, healthy journey into maturity in many ways.
As an adult however, I’ve become more and more determined to prove my independence. To not be labeled a child.
But maybe, just maybe, I’ve lost a little something in the process…
Oswald Chambers said this:
“Complete weakness and dependence will always be the occasion for the Spirit of God to manifest His power.”
Not many people would say that complete weakness and dependence is something to aspire towards. But there’s something in this that makes sense. The weaker we are before him, the more God can do through us. We take on his power, rather than trying to exert our own.
The paradox of spiritual maturity, I think, is that the more we ‘grow’ in our relationship with Christ, the more dependent we become.
Every parent knows their children were born into a tough-as-nails world. There’s no denying it, hiding it, or pretending otherwise. But it’s a world that contains more than a glimmer of hope. It’s a massive ray of sunshine actually. And his name is Jesus.
Children of normal, healthy parents know instinctively, from day one, that they are loved unconditionally. The ‘rebirth’ of coming to faith in God is the same. As soon as we believe, we are accepted unconditionally because of what Jesus has done for us. We are family. We don’t have to impress him to be loved. His death on the cross for us and resurrection made sure of it.
We are born into his grace and freedom. Simple as that.
The trouble is, we try and grow up too fast. Like toddlers who try to walk before they crawl, we stumble and fall with all our overblown efforts.
But if we look up to the Heavenly Father and just take a moment to realize His arms are there, waiting to support us… Then we can learn so much quicker. Unlike a teenager for whom it’s no longer healthy to remain totally dependent on his parents, we are actually encouraged by God to remain under his guidance into adulthood.
The beauty of this is that, unlike flawed earthly parents, he won’t manipulate, control or exert unjust, unloving authority over us. He sets us free to make our own mistakes, ultimately revealing that his ways are grace and truth, life and peace. And when we take a wrong turn, he’ll gently guide us back because ultimately the relationship with him is what matters most.
Jesus, help me to be a kid again.
“But Jesus said, ‘Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.'” (Matthew 19:14 NLT)
“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” (Matthew 20:16)
“So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You must be born again.'” (John 3:7)