Children, especially young children, don’t get a say in what happens to them or around them.
A baby may express its desires (food, comfort, changing etc) but the when and the how of what happens in response to that is out of their hands.
A toddler is dressed by its parent. The parent chooses the food they want the child to eat. The parent decides to go out/stay in. Visiting friends, shopping, holidays – all decided by the parent.
A young child may get up by themselves in the morning, and get dressed. But the clothes were laid out by the parent the night before, and the child is told what is an acceptable time to get up (ignore the points where a child challenges these things – just bear with me here for the sake of a serious point).
By the time they are, say, 11, the child is choosing what to wear – but the clothes have still been bought by the parent. Even if the child gets taken to “chose” the clothes that are bought, it is still within parameters set by the parent.
What school to go to? Where to go on holiday? Moving house? Visiting relatives? All the sort of things that are still outside of the child’s control.
As we grow up, our involvement in the decisions that affect us grows. We learn consequences. We learn decision making.
When we are old enough to get our first paper round/Saturday job, we have money that we have a right to spend pretty much how we want.
By the time we reach 18, and certainly when we finally leave home, we are fully in charge of the choices we make. Even if circumstances remain outside our control (the flat tyre, the difficult boss, unrequited love) we are aware of the ability to chose how to react to them, and what steps to take in response to them.
This is how it should be. This is independence. This is maturity.
Christian maturity however is (like most things in the Kingdom of Heaven) completely back to front.
From the moment we are “born again” we start a new life. A new journey. However, unlike our physical journey and life progression, this is all about losing our independence.
Bear with me here.
Jesus said “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like little children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 18:3)
Remember the child who is dependent on the parent?
Each morning, from a very young age, my boys would ask “what are we doing today?” Even as teenagers and young adults, they still come to us (only now it is last thing at night!) and ask “what’s the plan for tomorrow?”
When they ask this, they aren’t asking about the big things. They don’t want a 6 month or 5 year plan. This isn’t a philosophical question. No, they are asking about the plans we have made for the day so they know how they will affect them.
My 10 year old knows he will have clothes to wear each day and he knows they will be cleaned when they get dirty. He knows there will be food in the kitchen and a hot meal prepared for his dinner. He knows the bills are being paid which means there are lights, heat, water and (because he is a modern 10 year old) internet connection!
He doesn’t fret about those things.
When he asks me in the morning what the plans are, he wants to know if anything different is happening. Anything exciting. Anything that will give a structure to the day, give him focus. He has an expectation that I will take care of the big stuff, he just needs to know about the day to day stuff. That day. Today.
When you give your life to Jesus, and you are born again, the single hardest fundamental thing you are likely to spend the rest of your journey grappling with is losing your independence. Becoming child like.
Not my will but Your’s Lord. Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done. Not my way but Yours. Not my plans but Yours. Not my righteousness but Yours.
Slowly but surely you need to learn how to give up the need to know, to be in control, in charge.
Doesn’t that sound tough? Weak? Are you feeling threatened and argumentative in response to reading this idea or challenged? I know I felt genuinely stunned by the picture God gave me earlier this week in response to some serious (and right motivated) prayer time over issues to do with our future.
There is a lot of stuff going on in our lives and the lives of those around us in the church that is making things seem “out of control”. There is a lot I currently don’t understand! A lot of seemingly unanswered prayers. In some cases, we seem to have had the completely opposite answer to the one we were seeking!
It’s tough. I don’t like it.
It seems right and correct to “seek His Will” for our lives, but sometimes we misuse this “seek ye first” attitude and, if we are truthful, it becomes an excuse to justify our constant drive to KNOW, to understand, to control.
That was what hit me – like a spiritual truck – when once more I cried out to God “Why?! What is going on?!”
I have to tell you, I did not like the picture I received.
But it made sense. Total sense. I have to abandon myself to Him. Surrender all. How often do we sing those words in church on a Sunday or listening to worship in the car? “You can have it all Lord!”
I challenge you to become more childlike this week. Go to your heavenly Dad in the morning and thank Him for the new mercies of the day. Be thankful for the clothes set out for you. For the food provided. For the material comforts around you.
Acknowledge that He pays the bills. I don’t just mean the obvious big one, THE price He paid for us, but also I recognise that the financial provision in my life – job or benefits – ultimately come from Him.
Chose to live this week as if you truly believe He has charge of the big things. He has a Plan. He has a 6 month, 5 year, 50 year Plan for you and all of His creation. He knows the beginning from the end and He can work ALL things together for our good – if we let Him, if we leave the big stuff to Him.
Ask each morning “what’s the plan for today?” Who does He want you to talk to? Where does He want to take you? Is there anything exciting on the cards?! Be expectant of the good Father has for you.
Don’t sweat the big stuff. Focus on the small things. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.
This isn’t an unhealthy dependence. This is truly living.
Can I ask one more thing? Can you pray for me? You see, I’m trying to respond to what God has shown me, and I am purposing this week (surely I can manage one week?!) to be more childlike. However I am aware of my flesh rebelling against the very idea. I am a list maker. A planner. Organised. I like to be in control (oh BOY do I like to be in control). I like to be prepared.
At the moment I am none of those things and apparently that is how it is meant to be!
Even as I write those words though, Holy Spirit is whispering in my ear, reminding me that I CAN be prepared. That it is still ok to be organised. But, His ways are not mine. I can be prepared by reading His Word. By listening to Him. By trusting. I can be in control by subjecting my will to my spirit – which is partnered with His.
Guess you’ve been praying already? 🙂