Unless you become like little children…
I think there are a lot of different ways to interpret this scripture. One translation says “become teachable and learn about heaven’s kingdom realm with the wide-eyed wonder of a child…”, another says, “whoever becomes simple and elemental again…”. When I read this verse, I like to imagine Jesus talking about the joy of a child. I like to imagine Jesus saying, “Look at these children, look at their pure, un-adulterated, unhindered joy when they meet me, and receive my love. I want you to accept me like they do: arms wide open, a smile on your face, true joy in your heart.”
Today, we got to experience a little piece of Heaven in the form of the true JOY of children in Kenya.
After a couple hours of downtime at the hotel, we piled into the bus and headed to Adiedo Primary School. We got to sit down and meet with the 14 teachers who work there and love on all 425 students, ages pre-k to 8th grade. They welcomed us to their school, we got to know each other, and then we paired off and headed into the classrooms. We got to spend part of the afternoon in our individual classrooms playing games, answering and asking questions, and sharing the love of Jesus. My partner Bri and I got to play “American Football” with a group of 6th graders, and let’s just say I quickly learned that my soccer-glory days are LONG over!
But amidst the games, singing, and dancing, I was constantly struck with pure awe at these children: we played soccer on a “field” that was just a wide expanse of tall weeds. Most of them were barefoot, some wore broken flip flops or sandals that were 2 sizes too big. They wore uniforms that were dirty, ripped, and didn’t fit quite right. And yet…I saw nothing but pure JOY emanating from these kids. These kids whose parents had to choose them from amongst their siblings, because they could only afford to send one kid to school…These kids who have dreams to become doctors and lawyers and police officers and the President, but who likely won’t have the opportunity to see those dreams come to fruition… THESE were the kids whose joy was PALPABLE today on the soccer field.
Steve R. put it beautifully on our bus ride back to the hotel: “My heart didn’t know how to feel: I was both pained by their circumstances, but encouraged and in awe of the joy of their spirits.”
Today, we got to experience the joy of little children. And I think that’s exactly how God wants us to live out everyday; He wants us to change, to become teachable and to learn about His kingdom with the wide-eyed wonder and JOY of a child. That’s my prayer for all of us on this trip, but it’s my prayer for you today too.
So Jesus, change our hearts. Help us to receive You with the wide-eyed wonder and joy of a child. Help me to find joy in my circumstances, no matter what they are, like the children we met at Adiedo today. I want to look more like them because they look like You, Jesus, in their joy. Amen!