Updated: May 16, 2020
“I want our earth to be nice and clean so every time I go around the block, I’m going to bring a bucket and pick up trash.” This is what Ava, my six-year-old, said as she rode her scooter around our neighborhood. I was struck by the simplicity of it. She saw a need, and she decided to take care of it. That was it.
This is the same girl who is always searching for people experiencing homelessness as we drive around. When most people are looking away, she is looking out because she wants to give away the snack bags that we keep in our car. And a couple days ago, she decided that she also wants to take some money out of her piggy bank so she can give it to people who need it. “If people need food and money, let’s give them some of ours,” she says with such ease.
This girl humbles me. How often do I make excuses or come up with explanations as to why I shouldn’t tend to certain needs around me? How often do I look the other way to pretend that I don’t see what or who is right in front of me? How often do I let my desire for comfort and convenience stand in the way of doing what I know is right?
Kids keep it simple. We could learn a lot from them. Jesus knew this. That’s why he gathered a group of children around himself and said…
“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” – Mark 10:14-15
I imagine these children running up to Jesus. They knew they wanted to be with him, and they didn’t let anything stand in the way of that. No cultural norms, no pride, no grown-ups telling them to quiet down could stop them from getting closer to Jesus. There was no pretense, no posturing, no need to prove themselves. They knew what was most important, and they chased after it. This is how they received the kingdom of God.
This sweet moment with the children is contrasted in the next verses with a man who also wanted to experience the kingdom of God, but he let all his stuff get in the way. He didn’t want following Jesus to cost him too much or take him too far out of his comfort zone or conflict with what he really wanted for himself. Does that sound familiar?
Sometimes we say we want to follow Jesus, but we have our limits. We make excuses. We come up with explanations. We look the other way. We hold tight to what we want. We exclude ourselves from the kingdom of God because we’re chasing after our own comfort instead. We make it harder than it has to be.
Jesus tells us to learn from children. He asks us to keep it simple. He tells us to love God and love others. He tells us to treat others the same way we want to be treated. He asks us to give what we can when we see a need.
Ava gets it. She’s not trying to solve all the world’s problems, but she’s doing what she can. She can’t eliminate all pollution, but she can pick up the trash she sees as she walks down the street. She can’t eradicate homelessness, but she can give what she has and treat people with dignity. She keeps it simple. And it matters. If we all took a lesson from Ava and just did what we could, the world would be a much a better place.
If it seems difficult to know what God wants you to do and where to start, ask yourself these questions…
What is God putting on your heart?
What is right in front of you that needs your attention?
What is standing in the way of you doing those things?