"Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, 'I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me. But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned inthe depths of the sea'" (Matthew 18:2-6).
My recent journey through the valley of despair included some stops at some places that I had not visited for a very long time. These are places that I have not wanted to visit because of the pain that I have tried to bury in those places. I didn't want to visit the basement of our next door neighbor in Kimball, Nebraska where I was taught to confuse sexuality with acceptance. I didn't want to visit the handful of elementary schools that I passed thorugh during my childhood--the confusion of acceptance in one place--rejection in another. I didn't want to visit the locker room of the Jr. High in Ft. Yates, North Dakota where I learned that I wasn't allowed to fight back. I did not want to visit the home where the sacrifice of one's family for the sake of the church was a virtue. I did not want to visit parents who failed to notice the tell-tale signs of the molestation of their children. I didn't want to visit those places. I didn't want to acknowledge the little boy that was living in all of those spaces. Afterall, it's in those places that David learned that he was not safe to feel, he was not safe to trust, and that he was certainly not safe to "be a child".
As I meditated on the words of Jesus this morning, He took me back to some of those places. These are places that I have now learned to visit more frequently and with less fear. There was a time when I wouldn't step foot in those towns but now I've found that I can come and go without relative freedom--though I still enter cautiously. For me, Jesus is saying this morning, that in order for me to fully enter into the Kingdom that He is inviting me to--I must allow myself to enter as a broken, hopeless, guilt-ridden and molested child. God loves that little boy! God wants me to run and play. God wants me to trust Him. God wants me to find sanctuary in his loving arms. He is safe! It's a great thing to be a child in the Kingdom!
By the way, the picture is of the elementary school in Kimball, Nebraska where I began Kindergarten. I took the picture when I visited last Fall...