Monday, January 02, 2006

As a Little Child

And some parents brought infants to Jesus that he might touch them, but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus said, "Allow little children to come to me and do not stop them: for of such is the kingdom of God. Truly I tell you, whoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no way enter in."
I was reminded of these words this weekend. Last Thursday, we received three little kids through police protective custody, and when I say "little" I mean just that. They are young (5,3,2) but they are also tiny, a result of what our social worker called, "the worst neglect I've seen in years." They came to us filthy and hungry and scared and withdrawn. They look like cancer patients and after three baths we finally managed to get rid of what my sister-in-law (also a foster mom) called "the smell of poverty." It's more the "smell of neglect," because it doesn't take much money to wash your kids and make sure they brush their teeth. There's a court hearing tomorrow to determine if they'll go home or to relatives or whether they'll remain in foster care temporarily. I expect we'll have them a while.

But as we were getting the crew ready for bed last night, after baths and pajamas and books, the oldest girl started crying. I got down on a knee and held her hands. "What's the matter, sweetie?"

"I want my mommy."

What can you say to that? I can't promise that she'll see her. Until the court decides what to do with them I can't promise anything. But I was amazed.

Here's a kid who had literally nothing. She has, maybe for the first time ever, a warm bed, shoes that fit, enough to eat, hugs and care. But she loves and misses her mother more than all that. She loves her mother unconditionally, even though that love has not been returned.

Maybe that's what Jesus is talking about. "As a child" does not mean that unless you enter the kingdom of God before your fifth birthday you can't get in, but that you have to display the love and the faith that comes naturally to small children.

It's not about what God can give us, though that is everything. We aren't called on to be obedient little kids so Go will love us. We're called on to love, unconditionally, even when we don't understand, even when we're scared, even when we're in a strange home with strange people. We've got to show the faith of Job, who undergoing a trial he did not understand, said, "though he slay me, yet will I trust in him."

Little kids have that faith, that trust, and in their cases it may be misplaced or it may be that we adults simply don't understand that faith.

But that's the faith that is required of us.

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