Let the children come

Rachel SGRachel Gerber is denominational minister for youth and young adults for Mennonite Church USA.

Without fail whenever I open my computer to do work, or email, my four-year-old immediately becomes increasingly interested in what I am doing. He is absolute and determined to be in right in the middle of the mix, no matter how much redirecting or distractions I try to tempt him with. Goldfish crackers? Legos? Sesame Street? He wants my undivided attention, because he loves me and wants to connect with me — deadline or not — and will try any trick to wiggle his way into my lap and pretend to type or peek in on my conference call.

As one can imagine, this can often feel exasperating. Can’t. I. just. finish. one. thing? There is so much left to do.

“But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.’” Mark 10:14

Children have a lot to teach us about God. Could this be how Love comes? Could God be so close to me — running around me, karate-kicking in front of me, that I completely miss it? Could it be that in my own blindness I am actually pushing God away, like the disciples who tried to shoo the children, rather than embracing the One who continually comes and desires to be with me?

Maybe one of the best ways we can connect with Jesus is to embrace him in our lives as he comes to us — like a child, without hesitation, pretense or expectation. And as we do, Jesus reminds us, You are loved just as you are, not for what you produce, for you alone are enough. If we really believed this, how might this change our margins of work-life balance?

Or maybe, this story is about something completely different.

Maybe this is Jesus’ way of saying “don’t forget to play.” Because maybe Jesus understood the sense of wonder, creativity and sheer delight children embody. Maybe, just maybe, Jesus didn’t invite the children near to bless them for their sake…but for his. For children have a way to call us to slow down and to be present. They invite us to awaken and see the gifts all around. Children remind us and reorient us to the abundance of life.

The Church and our nation are in heavy times. And often when things feel bogged down, we tend to lose perspective. But God is still good. God is still here. And there are so many amazing things happening in our denomination.

Do not believe in scarcity — not enough time, money, ability. There is such abundance.

So maybe making space on my lap is exactly what I need these days. Maybe opening my arms wider to embrace the reality of what my life is full of now, rather than crossing my arms tighter and refusing to give any more is what I really need.

Maybe this is what we all need.

And when I do, I encounter a big hug. A warm kiss. A full heart. Such grace.

There is always enough.