“Whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 18:4)
It’s always good to have children nearby. They help to give us a daily perspective that resembles the balance that God wants us to experience. Certainly, grownups have a responsibility to do grownup things – like parent, find a job, make grownup mistakes. Still, Christ keeps putting a child in our path and says, “Be more like this.”
I’ve coached Upward basketball teams at Faith for 15 seasons. This year, my team consists of 7 girls in grades 2 and 3. It’s been very rewarding to help these girls learn the skills needed to play the game. I’ve also strived to point out that playing in a sport can teach us all some very important lessons for life – things like being gracious in both winning and losing, keeping your eye on the goal, playing on through disappointment and pain. These are principles which are essential to playing and living victoriously, and I’ve tried hard to impart those truths to my team.
I realized last week in practice (when I was trying to get all 7 girls to look at me at the same time) that I’ve been trying too hard. Most, if not all, of these girls aren’t seriously considering a career playing basketball. They may never even play on their school basketball team. Right now, they just want to enjoy getting together with some friends and being part of a team. Getting cheers from the crowd for some small accomplishment is just icing on the cake. My Coach had to remind me that it’s not always about striving for more. Sometimes, it’s just pure celebration for the life we’ve been given. It’s seeing life again through the eyes of a child.
Years ago when my children were very young, their grandfather died. They knew him affectionally as “Chief.” Following the memorial service at church, all the family gathered at his house for lunch. The adults were in the kitchen sharing remembrances and comforting one another, while the children played in other parts of the house. When Jeff and Kristin came in to inquire about lunch, they asked, “Why is everyone crying.” I responded, “We’re sad that Chief has died and that he is gone from us.” They replied, “But we’re going to see him again in heaven, right?” I said, “Absolutely.” With that simple assurance, they went back to playing with their cousins.
I thanked God right then for children. They continually remind us that every day can be lived in celebration if we have the faith and joy of a child.