Lately, my three-year-old son has been weighing important matters, such as announcing, “I don’t want to get married!”
Whew! I thought he was a tad young.
Today, while I was washing dishes he came up with, “I don’t want to grow up to be a man!”
“Do you want to be a dinosaur?” I asked.
“No! I don’t like dinosaur’s.”
“Do you want to be a panda bear?” I tried again.
“Do you want to be a truck?” asked his nine-year-old sister, doing school work at the kitchen table.
“No! That’s a joke!” He scowled in disgust.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” I asked, seeing his patience had run out.
“You,” he said.
What a reminder of how carefully children model their young lives after ours.
Reminds me of Ephesians 5:1, “Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children.”
How far I have to go in growing like God–a more difficult transformation than the equally preposterous suggestion that my son become a truck. Yet, what grace God gives me on this journey. What generosity to call me his child. Becoming aware of my own inadequacies–my impatience, my frustration, my failures–creates in me the capacity to be generous with the floundering of others.
Surely one of the most grievous sins of the church is the criticism the so-called “children of God” cast on others, elevating themselves while condemning those whose lives and choices look different from theirs. How quickly we forget it is God we are called to compare ourselves to, not one another.
“Criticism of others kills spirituality every time,” writer and preacher Oswald Chambers once wrote.
When I first read this, I thought Chambers meant my own critical attitude would destroy my personal growth. Surely this is true. But how much worse when my criticism–my lack of grace–destroys the spiritual growth of another.
It is only by giving and receiving grace–through an awareness of my own broken condition–that spiritual growth is possible at all.
Yet, as another conversation my youngest son reminded me, hope lives even here.
“Your daddy is a really sweet man,” I’d said one day deep in the middle of this past winter.
“Did he grow up to be like Jesus?” he asked.
“Why, yes,” I sputtered, taken by surprise. “Yes, he did.”
And a little child shall lead them.
“And he [Christ] said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven,” Matthew 18:3.
What do you think?