By ANNA YANGA
I came across this scripture for the nth time in my life the other day, and it brought me to some deep thinking (I think)…“At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ 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.'”Matthew 18:1-4 ESV
I wondered “What did Jesus mean when He said ‘turn and become like children’? And what humbling of one’s self truly mean?”
I heard a lot of sermons about this since I was a child, and most of them were talking about being simple and innocent like children. But then I wondered how we could actually go back to innocence.
Yes, we can try to live a simple life, but how can we become innocent again?
In short, it made me think and ask more about what it is in children that Jesus made them our “role model” for us to enter His Kingdom.
I also wondered what humbling one’s self could mean.
Is it putting ourselves down and convince people that we are nothing even if we know in ourselves that we have something to offer for the goodness of others?
Is it denying that we are capable of doing something to show that we “humble ourselves”?
I tried to quiet my mind and just waited for fresh thoughts to flow.
Then as I thought about my children and our parent-child relationships, I realised that the main thing that makes them different from us adults is that they depend and rely so much on their parents/carers.
They trust that we can provide for them and that we are the source of everything that they need. They go where we decide for them to go. And like God, we always want what is good for our children.
Then I thought perhaps humbling one’s self like a child is not about having low self-esteem or lack of self-confidence.
Humility is more about surrendering ourselves to God.
It’s more about emptying ourselves for God to fill us with all the goodness that He has for us.
And then I was reminded of this verse: “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”Matthew 10:39 ESV
And as I reflect on my own life, I was reminded of those times when I believed so much in myself, and I relied so much on my own capabilities because…why not?!
It was during those times when I felt like I was achieving so much — I could buy what I wanted even if I didn’t need them, I had people calling me boss/ma’am, I could help my family financially.
I felt like I could meet my own needs because I had what I needed to prove myself to others which made me get what I wanted.
But it was also the time when I could find no deep meaning in anything that I was doing.
I felt disconnected from the people I love the most. I didn’t care if my relationship with anyone would fail because I was self-sufficient.
I felt like I didn’t need any other adult who would care for me because I was no longer a child. But it was also during those times when I felt like I was dead inside. I felt empty.
It was the time when I felt like I was completely independent of God. It was during those times when I only believed in God’s existence but couldn’t feel His presence.
Yes, I was indeed no longer a child anymore and definitely wasn’t humbling myself during those times.
It was when having everything and having nothing co-existed in my life. It was when I won the world but lost everything that truly matters in life.
And thinking about all of these, I was reminded of why Adam and Eve had to leave the garden of Eden.
Then I was also reminded of the scriptures of Jesus’ “I am…’s” in the gospel of John.
And being a parent now, I can understand more the importance of surrendering my own will to God and of knowing and allowing His Will to be done in my life.
It’s because God wants and knows what is truly good for us…because He sees that bigger picture that I am not yet capable to see.
Then I have been reminded of one of St. Francis of Assisi’s prayers that I love:
“Most High, Glorious God,
enlighten the darkness of our minds.
Give us a right faith, a firm hope and a perfect charity,
so that we may always and in all things act according to Your Holy Will. Amen.”
About the Author
Anna Yanga is a Filipina stay-at-home mother living with her family in Timaru, New Zealand who loves to engage with other young families in the community.