It was another uneventful Monday of piano lessons, until my little student, K, uttered those words. I lifted my sleepy eyes in surprise. Pointing to a nearby jug glistening with silver beads of water, she giggled as she teased that unfortunate jug playfully.
K’s observation reveals a worldview that is all too common in children in that ephemeral sunlit zone between five and eight years of age. Such statements as K’s are often made without prejudice and with a simplicity that is dazzling.
I am reminded of a passage in the Gospel of Matthew:
. . . the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matt chapter 18, verse 1-4.)
Jesus didn’t mean, of course, that we are to morph into little children to enter the gates of heaven. It is an object lesson in the value of having a childlike faith full of an implicit trust in something quite beyond a child’s understanding. If you’ve ever spent any time with a child, you’d know how undefiled his heart can be, how untainted it is by all that’s evil and wicked in our fallen world. Unless proven otherwise, a child believes wholeheartedly that a father’s ‘Yes’ is a definite ‘Yes’ and implicitly believes in his father’s love. No questions asked.
Our heavenly Father is incapable of going back on His word. And knowing that, our hearts can be liberated to be like the child standing unwittingly before Jesus on that hot and dusty day, surrounded by grown men all hardened by the school of Life. We can respond to God’s knocking on the door of our hearts, to hear His gentle promptings, to see His hand in the world around us.
I am truly thankful that my work brings me to the homes of children, teens and adults on a daily basis. In such relaxed settings, conversations with my students such as the one described above remind me that it is not worldly sophisticated wisdom that makes us better men, but the simplicity and purity of a childlike faith that helps us see God in front of us, just like that anonymous child did two thousand years ago.