I watched my 2.5-year-old niece try to poke the straw into the juice pouch, in equal parts clumsiness and determination. Despite multiple asks on my end – “Nora, can I help you with that?” – her eyes stayed fixed on that stubborn yellow straw held tight between her little fist, prodding, slipping, bending.
This is the girl (like any other toddler?) who has yelled in defiance, “NOOOO, I DO IT!” when something as menial as slipping on sandals becomes cause for a meltdown. She’s a firecracker. My mom noted in passing that she remembers a similarly adamant little girl.
But this time, after several moments, Nora simply looked up at me and handed over the juice and straw. I plucked it in, gave it back, and off she went.
Scripture calls us to become like little children in the way we approach the Lord, believe in Him, and rely on Him – dependent, needy, all-surrendering. The problem of the Pharisees, and even the disciples arguing about who was the greatest, is that they consistently tried to be good enough to not really need Jesus. They propped themselves up with their self-made righteousness and social status, therefore declaring independence from Christ and disconnecting their need for grace and the God who generously gives help and hope, identity and purpose.
To be independent is to maintain a sense of control and do what I want. To need is to be vulnerable and subject myself to the influence of another – to the care of other people, but also, most profoundly, to the heart of God.
Every time I feel un-kind, disparaging words rise from heart to mouth; every time I desire to know, assuredly, that I did a good job; every time I perceive a task as beyond my capability – I have a choice.
Do I trust Christ in me? Or do I stubbornly fight it out on my own? Do I recall my true identity as a child of God? Or do I will myself to believe I am the master of myself and can do all things by my own strength?
I pray, I pray, I pray that He keeps on cultivating trust in me, a woman who doesn’t despise neediness or resent limits or refuse to be weak, like a child. But one who hands over the straw like sweet Nora, dependent and loved.