Like a Child
Bowen Miller

Sometimes I worry… well, more than sometimes. And sometimes I read the Bible, and I worry about how I’m going to implement these things in my life. I recently had one of those moments. I was on my spiritual retreat about 2 months ago now – on that retreat I was focusing on Chapter 18 of Matthew. A paltry chapter that simply gives direction on: entering the kingdom of heaven, that it’s better to chop off your own limbs than causing the vulnerable to sin, how to forgive, and how many times. And lastly, a parable about the expectation on us as believers and forgiveness. As I sat there reading chapter 18, this question entered my mind, “why did I choose this chapter…” 

As I was pondering this thought, I became curious as to how many commandments there were in the Bible. Because why not worry myself more. Did you know that there are approximately 1297? Well, neither did I. But, don’t worry, there are only approximately 684 about how we are shown/directed to live our lives from the New Testament. I hope you know all of them.

Facetiousness aside, there is a real element of trying to understand and live out a Christian life that I have found to sometimes seem impossible. And when I read the number 684, I’m brought to a place of anxious worrying about how I could possibly do those things!? The standard answer I have usually heard is, “thank goodness for grace,” and while I think that is a valid answer, it doesn’t always feel overly satisfying. I’m reminded of Hebrews 5: “Anyone who has to drink milk is still a baby, without experience in applying the Word about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, for those whose faculties have been trained by continuous exercise to distinguish good from evil.”

So, I don’t want to be a baby…. Maybe I’m taking the use of “baby” in this verse a bit too colloquially. But, I do want to mature in my Christian walk and life and understand more of what it means. So, as I sat at the Spit overlooking the sea, where I was for my retreat for lunch, reading this verse over a number of times, I wasn’t feeling overly confident, and the weight of expectation was feeling heavy. But something I’ve found to be true over the years is, if I give God and myself time – I don’t worry too much, I just trust the process of what I’m doing, God usually delivers. And then, on about the 50th minute of reading the chapter over a number of times, it hit me. The disciples ask him, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Jesus answers, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like a child…..” going on to say, “Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

This is right at the beginning. The chapter leads with this part. Clearly explaining who is the greatest. Now I don’t need to be the greatest but walking down that path seems like a good way to mature. So, as I slowly processed this, I realized that “oh… first things first, getting the foundation right, I need to become like a child.” The rest is important and is needed, but I need to become like a child. Humble, in the moment, grounded, curious, excited for adventure, and all of the things children have, meaning they are open to the world and exploring. I’ve realized that I’m so often worried about getting things right that I miss the joy of the world. I miss the people, I miss the opportunities to stop, be still, and see things from a different angle. My head can be so full of “stuff” that there is no more room for anything else that might come in and be helpful.

So, I have begun, I haven’t finished, I’m not even proficient yet. But I have begun saying to myself, “like a child,” and instinctively I stop, take a few deep breaths, and reengage with what I’m doing. I’ve found that I’m worrying less, understanding that I’m fairly competent at a range of things and if I get the foundation right, those other things seem less big.

So, sometimes I worry… but now I’m finding that, I stop, I remember God asks me to be like a child, and then I move on, trusting that the path God has me on will lead to maturity.