At football practice this week, a fellow mom was sharing about some fun things she did with her son over the summer. A big hit was a live group escape game that has recently opened in Tulsa. In an hour, she and her son, along with nana and uncle, had to unlock puzzles to solve the mystery. I could see the adrenaline rise as she recounted the exciting escapade. Once they solved one mystery, they were on such a roll they wanted to take on another right away (and the owners are marketing geniuses because they were right there to take the extra 20 bucks a head to indulge the newly expert detectives.) Now this is a family that enjoys being together in general. Finding an activity that was appealing to everyone from the preteen to the grandmother, was frosting. Besides the sheer fun of the game, she marveled at how the three “older” ones of the group would be stumped time after time by hard clues, only to be schooled by the 12 year old. Often the answer was so simple that they looked right past it. Bryson just saw things for what they were without muddling it up with the complications that adults often bring to the table. While they saw the clues through the lens of their years of experience, cynically believing that things can’t be what they seem, he saw things through innocence and clarity, believing that the answer was there for him to solve, confident that he had what he needed to figure things out. And he did.
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
2He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:1-4
That little fart. Not Jesus. Bryson. Well, Jesus, kinda, too. Isn’t it just like God to say things that make you go, “HUH?” I’m sure the disciples were constantly baffled by what came out of the teacher’s mouth. Jesus Christ–the original escape room creator. Just when his followers thought they had him figured out, He’d walk on water or bring someone back to life or DIE. No wonder they were so heartbroken when they heard of his death on the cross. They were grown men who had seen hard times and faced all the challenges that adulthood brings–disappointment, rejection, providing for their families, paying their taxes, following laws, worrying about sick family members, getting promotions, caring for their households, and on and on. They were were fully developed in the adult attributes of doubt, self-reliance, and pride. They’d surely had bad things happen in life before, so they came to each situation with all kinds of baggage. Peter knew that Jews weren’t always safe under Roman rule, so he feared he’d be arrested when asked if he knew Jesus. So, he lied. Martha knew that people would be hungry and food wasn’t gonna get prepared by itself, so she had to do it or no one else would. So she was annoyed by her sister Mary for (perhaps yet AGAIN?) leaving her to do all the work. Thomas may have become a skeptic after years of being let down by people he looked up to, so he refused to believe before seeing for himself. Our experiences, both good and bad, shape us and how we respond to every situation.
Jesus realizes all of that. He was one of us, after all. Yet, He insists that we become like children, like Bryson. Not because he wants to manipulate or control us. But because a child sees the simplicity of life. He is not bogged down by the baggage of disappointment. She is not suspicious of the unknown. A child has the ability to see things in ways that adults have lost. Adults want to complicate and theologize. And I believe God, in His infinite grandeur and majesty, makes it pretty simple. Love. Believe. Receive. Give. Yet, at the same time, He is a God of mystery and loves for us to seek Him, to pursue Him, to find Him in simple things.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7
LORD, help us to become like Bryson–simple in our faith, believing that you want us to find you. Help us to clear the clutter of worry and grown-up concerns and come to you as children, trusting that our Father is good. Amen.