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Dependence and Maturity

And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said,
“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children,
you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Whoever humbles himself like this child
is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

– The Gospel According to Matthew 18:2-4 (ESV)

Today someone from our children’s ministry placed a collection of prayers our church kids (Kindergarten-1st Grade) had written/drawn on sheets of red paper and posted on a wall (in somewhat the spirit of the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem) this past Sunday. So during my lunch break, I thumbed through the now-taken-down pages that waited on our office kitchen table…

  • “God ples help me on my speleg test.” I think he needs to pray harder 😉
  • “Tank you for all of the blessings that you have gave to me.”
  • “Der God, thak you fir my femlee.”

Cue the laughs. Cue the warm smiles. Cue the quick joy that these things bring with them. But they also bring something else…

  • “Dear God, help my frids because some of htem are sick.”
  • “Plese help me have gud frens.”
  • “This weekin has ben so bad, my mom and dad have been fiting and me and my brothers have ben fiting and I hope that you can fix that.”
  • Indulge me with one more prayer. It was the last page and folded in half like a note you would pass along in junior high. The cover: To God. The contents: “My dog died. Please take hem and have fun with him.”

Cue the tears. Cue the sobriety of spirit. Cue the solemnity of the moment.

As I looked at these requests one of my initial responses was, “Man, these kiddos ask God about everything.” From success on school tests to the ability to play soccer (lit., “Help me to play sacr ball.”), there seemed to be nothing in their eyes that was taboo for God to address. I wonder if that’s one of the things Jesus had in mind when he said in Matthew 19:14, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” or Mark 10:15, “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”

Isn’t it funny how, as we get older, we’re trying to be more and more independent? Our parental mandate is to produce adults who can fend and think for themselves. That was my experience: I graduated from high school a little more independent than when I was in it; then college, where my blossoming independence expanded; then a bigger graduation and now I was “on my own”. The rule being that the more independent I am, supposedly the more mature I am. Yet in God’s economy it seems the opposite it true: the more mature we are as Followers of Jesus the more our sense of dependency on God deepens. In other words, like a child, I am to see everything in my life as in need of God’s sustaining power. My teaching ministry, leadership of my home, being a friend, parenting my three sons, loving the unlovable, strength, etc…

No wonder Jesus spent much time in prayer. No wonder I don’t.

You see, I know me. I know I trust myself too much. I do first and think (or pray) later. I’m amazed at how much I do in life that I don’t connect with God about ahead of time. I’ve gotten older but I haven’t really matured. Maybe I need to take out some red sheets of paper in the morning and not leave the house until I’ve crayoned a few prayers to God for the day and turned my heart’s attention to the One in whom I must depend…for everything.

James 1:16-17, “Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”

How are you doing? Are you maturing or just getting older? Your dependence on God (or lack thereof) will tell you the answer.

Jesus, forgive me for my independence as it concerns following and learning from you. May I learn the life of a slave for God not one of self-assurance and pride. This for your glory and the spread of your name.

“I luv u beekus u dide on the karos.” Amen.

Picture of Yancey Arrington
Dr. Yancey C. Arrington is an eighth generation Texan, Acts 29 Network and Houston Church Planting Network fan, and Teaching Pastor at Clear Creek Community Church in the Bay Area of Houston. He is also author of Preaching That Moves People and TAP: Defeating the Sins That Defeat You, and periodically writes for Acts 29 and The Gospel Coalition.

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