Last time I was in the supermarket, I saw a sweet little girl, toddling beside her father, unsteady on her feet, but held safe by his hand. She was perhaps eighteen months old, not quite at the “Me do it!” stage of insisting on her independence with tantrums. She accepted she couldn’t do it on her own, and was happy for her Daddy to help.
It reminded me of this verse:
He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 18:2-4 (NIV)
Jesus said that to the disciples, the people who knew Him best. I guess it was meant of two levels, like so much of what He said. They were squabbling over who would be the greatest in the Kingdom, not understanding what the Kingdom was about. So it can be read as a gentle rebuke to their behavior.
But it’s also a message for us all, especially me right now!
A little child is helpless, they have to have someone to support them, they know they can’t do it all for themselves. They need to let others do things for them. If they start throwing tantrums, insisting they can walk on their own, and the only thing that’s likely to happen is they’ll fall over!
Just like us with God.
I’ve always prided myself in my strength and stamina, in my ability to do things. I was a nurse, married to a disabled man, caring for his elderly mother too. My job was to help others, I didn’t need help myself! That even extended to God. I needed His grace and His forgiveness, sure, but for day-to-day stuff, I thought I could do it myself.
So much pride, so little humility! The painful secret I wouldn’t admit to anyone was that I even believed I HAD to do it all myself, that there wasn’t really anyone there to help me. God was surely too busy to help me, and I shouldn’t bother him with my needs.
Then He humbled me.
Toward the end of last year, I developed a rare neurological illness, a condition where I can’t do it all myself anymore. It won’t kill me, but it’s severely impacted what I can do. I need to be like a little child, accept I can’t do it all myself, and lean on Him.
Just like that little child, I need support. I can’t walk without help. I overbalance fifty or more times a day and have to catch myself on walls and furniture, or my old-lady wheeled walker, or on other people. It’s been tough for me to accept.
For a while, the only way I was like a little child about it was throwing tantrums about it. I had a whole month where I cried with frustration every single day. “I want to do it!” “I should be able to do it!” “Why can’t I do it!” “It’s not fair!” I pouted and cried and blamed God.
But seeing that child with her father reminded me that God always has a purpose and a plan. He’s allowed me to have this condition for a reason. To teach me humility. To show me I need to trust in His strength, not my own. To bring me more fully into His Kingdom.
As I surrender more and more to Him, as I accept I need help, as I become more like that little child, I can feel His love and support. His hand holding mine, guiding me and stopping me from falling.
The illness is still frustrating, but feeling His presence makes it worth it.
I still need to surrender more. I still need to lean more on Him. But He’s teaching me every day, through His love, through His care, through His strong arms around me.
Please Lord, help me to learn to lean on You. Help me to trust You. Help me to be as a little child before You. Help me to learn to let You be the Daddy, and do it for me, with Your infinite love and support. Show me that You care for our smallest needs, and are always there for us. Thank You!
[Tweet “Becoming like a little child: God’s lesson for me in my illness”]