I love when God uses the world around me to illustrate his Word in extravagant color. In Matthew 18, Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Mt. 18:3-14, NLT) I’ve read this passage of Scripture many times, and I believed I had a pretty firm grasp of what Jesus was getting at. But just to make sure, why not bring a little kid along to paint a brighter picture, one that would be imprinted on my heart forever.
Last month, my wife and I had the opportunity to make an impromptu trip to Arizona to surprise her brother who moved there a couple of years ago. It was just an overnight trip, but so worth it to see family we haven’t seen in person since before the pandemic. One of which is my great-nephew who is now four years old. This kid is so full of life and energy! And when he walks into his grandparents’ house, it is the spark that ignites his flame. He wants to do all the things at once. He’s such a happy kid. Happy to see us, and happy to be seen! Even though he was two when I last saw him, he and I were able to re-bond instantly over one very powerful common thread: Superheroes! That’s right! He loves The Avengers. And on this particular day, he was wearing an Avengers t-shirt. So, when he saw that I, too, was wearing a Captain America t-shirt, it was the reassurance he needed that I was his people. I think he’ll probably be Thor when he grows up, and I’m still holding out on becoming Black Panther when I grow up. Wakanda Forever! Needless to say, we have the same vibe!
As we sat on the couch watching an Avengers cartoon on the TV with all the appropriate “OOOH’s!” and “AAAH’s!” I looked over to see him staring at my bare arm. I’m not positive, but I think he was mesmerized by the caramel brown tone of my skin. He must have noticed the difference between him and me and became curious. You can hardly blame the kid. Half of his life has been pandemic and lockdown and masks and social distancing, etc. He looked on at my outstretched arm quietly for a few moments longer. Then he asked, “Can I touch you?”
“Sure,” I said. He reached over with both hands and felt my arm. Not too quickly or too aggressively. Gently, he squeezed my arm for a bit. He then flashed his brilliant smile at me and uttered the words I will never forget. “You’re amazing,” he said! “You’re perfect!” My heart instantly melted like a stick of butter in the microwave. I felt tears starting to sting my eyes, and I fought to hold them back. I didn’t want him to think he had hurt my feelings. All I could muster up was, “Thank you! You’re pretty amazing and perfect yourself!” He turned right back to the Avengers as if he hadn’t just rocked my world, but me, I was lifted. I was encouraged. I remembered Jesus’ words about little children and at that moment, I got it.
The one who is like that little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven because he is humble and able to perceive the image of God in the beauty of his creation. I know as we grow older, the world tries very hard to distract us from this, usually with success. But hope is not lost. Maybe we can all take some time to listen to the little children. Learn to see the world through their eyes again. See the amazing, perfect image of God in all of mankind so that we can treat each other accordingly.
Thank you, Easton, for setting the example of how we can make this world a better place, a few kind words at a time.