Posts Tagged ‘Innocent’

Back to once upon a time land, and castles, and roads paved with gold, and pearly gates, and a king who rules justly and loves mercy. Ah …. I almost can dream myself right into the middle of it all!

Throughout the ‘kingdom’ verses in Matthew, Jesus uses children over and over again in his description of the kingdom of heaven. As with every teaching of Jesus, he did not use children as illustration by chance, but because of what they are, and because of what they are not.

Children are innocent, pure, powerless, uneducated. They are the least of society, because they contribute so little to society, from the perspective of power. In their state of powerlessness, they exemplify that the best (heaven) was created and intended for those who are the least deserving, the least powerful the least able to give anything back.

Last week I wrote about the kingdom when Jesus was asked who would be the greatest in the kingdom. Jesus replied that “whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me” (Matthew 18:4-5).

But Jesus child talk didn’t end there.

 In the next verse (v. 6) he says, of children, “if anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” Wow! I think he meant business. His statement strongly says that he is serious about the value of children.

Jesus then goes on (v. 10-14) to compare a wandering sheep to “one of these little ones.” He compares God to a shepherd who, if one sheep was lost, would leave the others to go in search for the lost one. This would have been unbelievable to the people listening, because a sheep was valuable to a shepherd’s livelihood, a child was … just a child.

With all of this kid talk, people started to bring their children to Jesus, so that he could place his hands on their head, to pray for and bless them (Matthew 19:13-15). This was really getting on the nerves of the disciples, who wanted the kids to head to the nursery so that the important people … like them, could be close to, and hear Jesus as he taught. But Jesus was quick and decisive in his response, “let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

There it was. Jesus wanted so badly for them, and for us, to understand, that power in the kingdom of heaven came from a different source than it did/does on Earth. In the kingdom of heaven, the Father provides membership to those who, like children, have no knowledge of, and no desire to seek power.

Later on in Matthew 25:34, Jesus speaks of the King, “come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.” Those who he is speaking to are those who, like children, the kingdom of heaven was created for. That is my kind of kingdom!

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With a title like this one, I know of at least one person who will read this blog post!

I have been married to my hubby for almost twenty-three years, and yes, he has taught me a thing or two. Probably not as much as he would have liked me to have learned from him in that time 😉 .

The best thing that he taught me has made me a better person, a better mom, a better neighbor, a better colleague and better at my job (probably a better wife too, but hubby would be better at discerning that). It is something that he told me he recently learned from an elderly retired pastor, but really he has been living it as long as I have known him.

This thing that I have learned from hubby is to take people at face value. To not impart guessing into their motives, but to accept them as they are.

It sounds good … it is not easy.

I am one who has a tendency towards discernment. I have an inner ability to grasp and comprehend what is obscure (definition thanks to the Merriam-Webster dictionary). Another way to put it is that I often get a ‘feeling’ or have a sense about individuals when I first meet them, that is often, but not always true. This gift tends to make me very open to some, and very guarded to others.

If I get a bad ‘feeling’ about someone, I tend to treat them with suspicion, distrust, and doubt. It is so easy for me to hang a cloud over that persons head, and for me to treat them in a manner in which they are convicted before they are even accused. I give no opportunity for them to plead their case. I act a judge and jury, and they are imprisoned by arrogant way I yield my ‘gift’.

What hubby has modeled, in my lifetime with him, is that he gives people the benefit of the doubt. He believes well of people, until he has evidence, from them directly of something different. He believes in people with no judgment on them. He gives them the benefit of the doubt. He always believes, always hopes, always perseveres.

Hum, that sounds familiar.

It sounds like 1 Corinthians 13:4-8:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered,it keeps no record of wrongs.Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

To love someone is to do all of the above. To pre-judge is to never allow others the opportunity to show their best side, and likewise it never allows us to show ours either.

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There is a life mystery that I expect I will never fully understand. It is twofold: First is the amazing love, and dedication, and awe, and commitment that a parent feels when their newborn is placed in their arms. Second is how that beautiful, innocent, miraculous bundle of joy turns into a surly, snarly, stubborn teenager.

As a parent, who has experienced both the beautiful babe and the surly teen, I am baffled at how one morphs into the other. I am also confounded at how I have morphed as well. From the moment that I would have confirmation of being pregnant I was in love, I was willing to die for that child …

  • and then they become a defiant two year old,
  • and then they won’t eat their veggies
  • and then they get into a fist fight on the playground
  • and then they talk back
  • and then they argue over anything (as in anything you say)
  • and then they won’t talk
  • and then you understand why some creatures eat their young …

I also work in a school, and so I get to see teens, daily, with their chosen packs (you know, like wolf packs … so many similarities 😉 ), and it does a number on my ‘parent perspective’ of those surly teens.

Here is what I see:

  • ‘friends’ who embarrass and humiliate them in front of other ‘friends’
  • faces of failure, because they didn’t get the mark they thought or hoped they would on an assignment or test
  • not wanting to ask for help in class, because they truly feel they are the only ones who do not get it
  • exhaustion caused by working late, so that they can have the money to buy the ‘things’ that keep them ‘in’ with the pack
  • exhaustion caused by the reality that a teens body has a different clock from an adults (and from our school schedule), their bodies are programmed to ‘awaken’ in the evening, making sleep hard to come by until late into the night
  • inattention in class, causing reprimands from teachers who have not been alerted, by parents, of the illness of a family member, the pending separation/divorce of parents, deaths, etc., etc., etc.
  • students who look like a scared creatures when they walk down the hallways, because they feel they have no ‘pack’ to belong to
  • students who are self-injuring (cutting, eating disorders, drugs, alcohol, illicit sex), who have so much going on in their minds and bodies, that they hurt themselves to distract from the big hurts in their lives

This is what I see, it is not all I see (I do see good stuff too, and lots of it, but the good stuff doesn’t contribute to surly so much), but this is what I see that makes me look at my surly teens differently. I now know that when they hop in the van at the end of the, our van might be the only place they have felt ‘safe’ all day, and they might be surly to me because I might be the first person in their day who they know will love them, despite their behaviors, or their looks, or their hearts.

Moms and Dads, we need to continue to be the same ‘in love’, willing to die for you parents that we were when we first laid our eyes on our babies. We need to stop responding to our kids surly behaviors, and start seeking the reasons why they are surly. We need to stop being offended by their attitudes, their music choices, their clothing and hair styles and start looking through all of that to the child/adolescent/teen/young adult at the core of who they are. We need to love them through the eyes of a Father God, who looks at us, not as we are (thank goodness), but as who He knows we can become.

Every week, I know of a daughter who willfully breaks the rules of her Father. She lies, she snubs others, she can be really mean to those younger than her, she has hissy fits, she leaves the house without telling anyone where she is going, and she might spend days without saying a single word to her father. Then, one day every week she goes out in public to say how much she loves her Daddy. And you know what, because her father is God, He welcomes me back … every time. Because my Father God knows I am going to be surly (it’s a given, just like our kids), but He sees in my the enormity of what I can become, and He isn’t going to give up on my until I see it too.

Don’t stop seeing the enormity of what our surly teens can become.

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