An Oklahoma winter that seemed to drag on forever is finally over. The warm weather, spring rain, and sunshine has started to green up the yard and send the redbuds into a spectacular bloom. One of the perks about being in that narrow stretch of the year between the frigid cold and the blistering heat is letting the three year old spend a good bit of time in the backyard. This has a couple of great benefits. The first is that the parents in the household regain a bit of sanity after having an energetic little boy largely cooped up in the house. The second is getting to see the world through his eyes as he engages the fascinating backyard world.
We will often let Liam play out in the yard by himself. It is during these stretches when he has the whole backyard to himself that his little imagination really kicks into high gear. This afternoon I stepped outside to check up on him and found him in the back corner of the yard. He was dutifully collecting little rocks and placing them on one of the boards on the fence. There were a number of little ants crawling around the rocks. I asked him what he was doing. “I’m feeding the bugs Daddy!” Of course. This feeding of the bugs kept him busy for close to thirty minutes as he watched with wide eyes while the ants navigated the feast he had laid out before them.
By this point you are surely wondering what this has to do with God’s Kingdom. First of all let me state that I am referring to the Kingdom that is yet to come. The one that is not yet fully realized as we live in that time between the inauguration of the Kingdom at Jesus’ coming and the full arrival of the Kingdom upon his victorious return. I watched Liam explore the backyard with wide eyed wonder. I watched him care for the little bugs by carefully laying out a spread of rocks in front of them. I was struck at how true the words of Jesus are in Matthew 18:1-4:
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them 3 and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
That got me to thinking about why Jesus would say those things? I mean, anyone who has been around a young child for more than a few minutes knows just how quickly they can turn from angelic little cherubs into a whirling dervish. But when you try to see the world through the eyes of a child I think it is easier to grasp just why Jesus pointed to children as an example for how we should act in his Kingdom. Think of the awe a child has as he explores the world around him. Think about how he basks in the wonder around him without question or cynicism. Think about how a child trusts. Our youngest never shows an ounce of fear when I hold him up over my head while we play. Children have a proper sense of awe, wonder, and faith.
I think that is what it will be like when we experience the Kingdom of God. When the old world passes away and a new heaven and earth are put in place and creation is once again rightly ordered. We will all get to experience the world like our children do. We will see the wonders of creation with a sense of awe as we see the world restored to the way God intended it to be. We will look on in wide eyes at the little ants that we once considered pests. We will be able to experience the world from a place of innocence rather than one clouded by the results of sin and the fall. We will experience the love of God with a faith like that of young children. Knowing that God will never leave us and never fail us. Our fears and doubts will finally be put aside and replaced with a perfect understanding of his faithfulness. It brings me a great deal of peace to think of those who I have loved who are already experiencing God’s Kingdom. Think of them being present with their Savior and experiencing a world where all is made new. A world where work is wonderful (for we were created to work) and where each day brings new discoveries about the unfathomable depths of the creator God. Where the most minute details of eternal every day life are a cause to worship. Where the glory of God is experienced in perfect fullness and not through the dim mirror of a sin tarnished creation still in the throes of renewal.
So the next time you see a wide eyed child exploring the backyard or preparing a table of rocks for a kingdom of ants, I hope you will think of the Kingdom that has not yet fully arrived. I hope it will put within you a longing for that Kingdom and a longing to be able to see a world restored and to experience that new Kingdom just like our kids experience this broken world in the wonder of their younger years.