For the past few weeks, I’ve been running into these verses in my Bible readings or in books I’m reading or in conversations at church:

2 Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, 3 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).

It got me to thinking about what being like a child means in terms of Christianity. As I tried to picture it, I had to go back to my own childhood and try to remember what I was like as a child. The image that came to mind was me when I was learning to swim. When a kid learns to swim, some just jump in and figure it out. Others, like myself, need to know more about how it works, and then slowly build trust in the person teaching us until we’re ready to stand on the side of the pool and jump into that person’s arms. That’s how I picture us learning to follow the leading and nudging of the Spirit. Some people can just jump in and start swimming without much of an issue. But some, like me, need to read about it, understand it, know what it might look like in the beginning, and then slowly start stepping off the side of the pool into God’s arms as he stands at the edge. And gradually, over time, God eases back from the edge of the pool, forcing us to leap farther and farther each time.

Regardless of whether you’re a “toe-dipper,” checking to see if God will really be there for you, or if you’re the type to leap head first on the first time, the idea is to be like a child and trust in someone bigger than you. Reach out to God and listen to his will for this moment and then respond. Only through our willingness can God work in our lives. The hard part is sometimes just letting go of what we’re used to and doing it.

“Before God will do his work in us, he must have our willingness…As C. S. Lewis points out, sometimes the old nasty Lizard of habitual behaviors, though slowly destroying us, has become like a comfortable companion sitting on our shoulder whispering, ‘You can’t live without me.’ So we fear freedom. Willingness becomes central to our healing and growth, and so we must be willing to let God slay the Lizard” (Burke, 2008, pp. 172-173).

I’m glad God stuck with me long enough to get the point where I’m now falling forward into His arms as He stands in the pool of life. My plan before too long, is to be running full-tilt and leaping into the pool without much fear at all. But what better pair of arms to be jumping into than God’s?

— Burke, John. (2008). Soul Revolution: How Imperfect People Become All God Intended. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

— The New King James Version. 1982 (Mt 18:2-3). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.