Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said,
“Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children,
you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:2-3)
My grandson, Adrian, is 16 months old, and he is my teacher. I enjoy the look in Adrian’s eyes when he sees me. We have a game we play. I think all grandfathers play the “I’m Gonna Get You” game, or some version of it, perhaps several different versions. One of my versions employs the shark music from the movie, Jaws.
I like it when Adrian spends some of the day with me at home. We play and eat together. He naps, and I nap. I take him to the tool store or to a park. I like it a lot!
At the end of all that is when Adrian is teaching me something very important. Actually, he is showing me an example of what it means to be a child of God.
No matter how much fun we have together, when his father shows up, I must take second place. Adrian gets it. He shows me what it means to love my Father.
Even if I were the greatest grandfather the world has known, Adrian would still run to his father and leave me in the dust. He does not like for his father to go far from his sight. He loves to work with his father and to play with his father and to go with his father and to sit with his father. Wherever his father goes, that is where Adrian wants to go. Wherever his father is, that is where Adrian wants to be.
I have begun to think about that. Am I like the little child of whom Jesus spoke? Am I like Adrian? Or am I satisfied with a grandfather when I could be with my Father?
You know, a grandfather’s job description is to spoil and to focus in short bursts on every need and desire of a grandchild. A father’s job description is to walk a grandchild to maturity over the long haul and through whatever might come along the way.
Times might come for Adrian when he will think that the spoiling of a grandfather is momentarily to be preferred over the discipline and maturing of a father. But I am confident, he will never abandon his father. A moment will never become even an hour, much less anything quite like regularity.
Yet can I say the same for myself? Has a moment ever become an hour away from my Father? Have I found it regular to prefer and to choose a grandfatherly substitute? Have I ceased to be like a little child? Have I ceased to be like Adrian?