Looks were exchanged between the elders on the stage and the worship team just to the side of the stage. They stopped practicing. As the duo singing the song for the bridal procession got themselves into place and started the music, everybody else in the hall straightened up. The atmosphere was a mix of anticipation, excitement and happiness. The bride and the groom were about to enter. The youngest in the audience for this occasion, who were four and five years old, were strictly advised to attach themselves to their seats atleast for the first ten minutes. And so, after the cameraman, the groom entered with his parents followed by the bride. Just as they reached midway, this four year old cherub, who was also the groom’s niece, got up from her seat, and made a dash for her grandfather, calling out loudly, ‘appacha’ (a term for grandad in malayalam). She didn’t stop with that. She did a small twirl, clapped her hands together at the sheer joy of just seeing him and went and squeezed his hands and hugged his knees. She kept smiling at him till his creased brows and worried looking face gave way to a huge beaming smile that reflected hers and exuded a warmth that was palpable to anyone who observed. And before her parents could reach for her she walked back to her seat, looking extremely satisfied at what she’d just done, totally unaware about the fact that this was all recorded on camera, or that she’d just made her mark on an otherwise solemn occasion.
I watched her face as she walked back to the seat next to mine, and smiled. She’d just celebrated a person she loves a lot, she’d expressed that and she was super delighted at it. It made a lot of sense to her to express what she felt for him, and that was that. She shifted her attention to the next thing. No biggie. It was that simple.
‘ …for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these..‘ (Matthew 19:14)
Those words kept coming back to me again and again that morning.
As a paediatrician, an aunt and a sunday school teacher, I’ve had the honour and privilege of spending a lot of time around these little beings, day in and day out. Whether they’re sick, or they’re full of questions or they just want to have fun, they never fail to teach me something new everyday. If you’ve looked into the eyes of a child, you would know that there’s an unbeatable zest for life and love you see in them. Something that makes you yearn for your childhood days all over again. There’s something about the simplicity in their love for you and the trust they place in you, the joyful spirit that they have, that humbles you. That makes you want to understand why Jesus stressed on the importance of becoming like a child to experience the fullness of the joy we have in Him.
When a child starts to draw, one of the first things he/she draws is a house and stick figures of all the family members holding hands. And then when he/she can spell, they write down their names and the names of the ones closest to them. And then they show it to every person they come across. Sounds familiar? They simply can’t get enough of celebrating the love around them.
As the years pass by and we grow older, somehow the simplicity disappears. We just can’t trust God like that anymore. We somehow find it difficult to love Him fully. And gradually we discover we somehow aren’t that joyful anymore, and that translates into the relationships we have around us. We’re yet to discover at what stage of development does one learn to complicate things. When do we start thinking, “What will other people think?” as opposed to ” What does the One who created me, want of me?” How does that question become an essential part of our existence? Why do we stop celebrating God’s love for us by becoming so focussed on the doing than the being?
I’ve been wrestling with these questions myself. And as I placed these questions and doubts and struggles before my Maker, this is what I was moved to pray- “Oh to have the heart of a child before the Lord! To trust Him fully, to love Him more and more with that kind of simplicity, to celebrate Him regardless of what ‘others might think’, to declare His goodness out loud no matter what the situation looks like and to overflow with that zeal for life and love because I know I’m held in the everlasting arms.”
May this be your prayer too, dear reader, as you navigate your days ahead- to hear Him, to walk with Him, to unabashedly love Him, and to experience His constant presence- to be like a child before Him- uncomplicated. Then our eyes would be opened to see the million little miracles unfolding around us daily- in all its brilliant colours.
And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:3)