My son never fails to enjoy the walk from the car to our front door. He starts with the little anthill in the crack of the driveway, watching the worker ants carry fine grains of dirt to their home. He runs after our cat with his arm outstretched and curious, seeking the softness of her fur. As he climbs the steps of our walkway, he finds interesting leaves, spiky sweet gum balls, and an acorn the squirrels left behind. A wispy spider’s web between the iron spindles on our porch catches his eye as I impatiently ask him to join the rest of the family inside.
As a mother with a long to-do list, I find my little explorer’s meandering journeys lead to frustrated outbursts from me. But he isn’t aware of the uncooked dinner, the unreturned emails, or the ache in my weary feet. He only knows the wonder right in front of him. The joy of discovery makes everything else unimportant (including obeying his mother).
In Matthew 11:25, Jesus thanked God that the childlike responded to his message about the coming kingdom of God. It took a childlike faith for these unlikely followers of Christ to believe what seemed unbelievable. These believers allowed tradition and religion to melt away as Jesus invited them to believe he was the Messiah.
Jesus ended his prayer with an invitation: “Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28–30 CSB). The religious leaders burdened the people with a list of rules they would never be able to follow, but Jesus invited them to find rest in him.
As I impatiently watch my boy enjoy his walk from the car to our front door, it hits me—the connection between childlike faith and the rest found in Jesus.
Children aren’t afraid to ask for help. When they encounter something they can’t do, they quickly call for back-up. The words “Mom, help!” fall from their lips without hesitation.
Children do what they’re told, but they usually don’t look for more to do. They don’t seek added responsibility and more chores. When their work is done, they move on to the fun.
Children don’t feel an urgency to get somewhere or do something. Any parent late for an appointment recognizes this inherent lack of urgency. Kids take their time and enjoy the journey. Because they aren’t in a hurry, they have time to explore their environment, tickle the cat, and linger in a moment.
Children live fully in the moment. They don’t think about chores while they play. They simply play until someone tells them to stop.
As much as I’d like to ditch all my duties in favor of rest, I can’t. I am an adult, and that comes with responsibilities. But while I can’t become fully childlike, I can become more like a child in these ways, with childlike faith:
- When I’m in over my head, I can ask for help. This doesn’t make me less capable, but it does lighten my load.
- I can be content with doing enough, even if it’s not all I set out to do.
- I can enjoy the journey, pausing to savor sweet moments with my people and God’s creation.
- When it’s time to rest, I can be fully present. What waits to be done can wait a bit longer.
Reach out for help when circumstances overwhelm you. Sit under a blanket with your little ones and find comfort from the warmth of their little bodies. Take time to breathe in the cold air so deeply your lungs start to burn. Lose yourself in a faraway place as you turn the pages of a novel.
January is a season to set goals and embrace discipline. While you make your lists and dream of the future, don’t forget to be childlike from time to time. Enjoy rest, and find peace.
Photograph © Shuto Araki, used with permission