*Pictured (above) is the giant squid’s tentacles, Noah in rainwater, and Ella with watering can.
I’ve noticed my kids play. Why do they play? All children play. They love it. It’s random. Anything, as long as it’s by the rules, can happen and they expect it’ll be good. They even expect to win and, my kids anyway, believe they won no matter what. We have a race between Noah and Ella and Nicole and me. Noah declares, “I won, Dad!” and Ella says, “No, I won, Noah!” And I settle it by saying, “We all won!” And Noah says, “Yeah, we did, didn’t we!” Anything can happen and everybody wins.
Of course, Ella like structured play. She just began a ballet class and loves it. But even though she doesn’t know even what the class outline is, she joyfully (in her stoic faced way) anticipates it.
And I’ve noticed with both my kids, experiences in playing games or participating in a “class” (for example, Nicole teaches them about Jesus and truths from the Bible), almost always become more MATURE through the playing of the game!
Is that a shock? C’mon, I thought doing what kids do would make me less mature!
But really, it’s their perspective as they play games that opens them up to growth and maturity.**
Jesus knows children are open. They can expect grace and goodness and truth that benefits everyone who feels, hears, and sees it. So Jesus said, “Unless you become like one of these children, you can’t enter the Kingdom of God!”
Jesus was and is serious about us relaxing and joyfully anticipating the breaking in of God’s Kingdom. Jesus says we must open up to him being king, believe that his kingdom really is superior to all the other kingdoms of this world. The real question is, Why does that require childlike faith?
I’d say we’ve been burned. We played a game and lost. But our feelings about losing were childish, not childlike. We had a deeper belief than that God is generous and lavish and rich enough to give gifts to everyone in play. We had the belief that we were the centre of the universe.
We had another belief as well that actually kept us immature even as we grew older and maybe got material awards for “winning.” We believed that we have to work for everything we get and we need to hold on tight or someone will steal it.
Oh God, Father of the universe and the human race that thinks it’s at the centre, teach us to play again. Teach us to open up expecting good surprises from you. Teach us to open up to learn the skills you require because you enjoy seeing us enjoy them. Teach us to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with you. Teach us to work as though we are playing a game in which everybody can win. Thank you for your generous grace, that we can come to you vulnerable and without fear, for yours is a throne of grace. Amen in Jesus who said,
“I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.
“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 5:25-30
**Kids can also avoid maturity the same way we can. They can be dragged kicking and screaming into potentially fun learning activities that they miss out on by their own choice. God doesn’t force us to learn, but he does give opportunities that can be maturing for us.