Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Pretty Please by Brett Westervelt

I sometimes wonder why Jesus likes kids.

I’m hanging out at Borders trying to read and be contemplative, and there’s this young girl hanging out at Borders trying to be loud and annoying. I’m not sure exactly how old this girl is, maybe 6 or 10. In any case, she’s doing a much better job of ignoring what I’m trying to do here, than I am of ignoring whatever it is she’s doing.

First she’s walking around drinking an empty glass of milk and ice. Empty. Not empty as in suck-on-the-straw-a-little-harder-and-maybe-something-will-come-out, but empty as in nothing left to drink.

Next she went into question mode. Someone she knows named Vanessa just walked in. “Hey, Vanessa … What are you doing? ... Why? ... What is that? ... Why? ... Where are you going, Vanessa?”

Now she has a magazine and is sitting down at a table by mine. She’s somehow figured out how to make this really loud noise just by turning the pages. It kind of sounds like ripping off a band-aid, over and over and over. There’s no method to this madness, but definitely a devotion. Now she’s back to work on the still empty glass of ice, continuing to ignore my furrowed-brow looks. She just doesn’t get proper social protocol.

I’m pretty sure it’s not just this one. I know lots of other kids that do the same wrong-time, wrong-place things. They pick the most important part of the game to ask what a first down is. They spit-up/throw-up during the three minutes you’re holding them. They don’t realize that when you laugh or cry you’re supposed to have some semblance of a reason.

I could see why Jesus would like kids—in a Kids Say the Darndest Things sort of way. I just don’t get why He would say something like, “Let the Children come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” And even, “Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all” (Mark 10:14,15).

I realized earlier today that I’ve hit a wall with prayer. At least the in the area of asking God to do things. I get bored with the monotony of asking over and over again. I get disappointed when my earnest requests don’t get quickly resolved. I find myself trusting more and more in God’s sovereignty and “fate” and see less of a point in actually asking Him to do things. Throw in my attempts to counterbalance books like The Prayer of Jabez, where prayer is sold more as a means for getting what you want than as a chance to have a conversation with the God of the universe, and my prayers are often a bunch of wishy-washy idle chatter. Hey God, how’s it going? It sure is a nice day today. Thanks for that …

Sure God’s not some big vending machine in the sky, giving me things if I have exact change and shake Him a bit. But there are important things in my life that I need to talk about with God if I want to really have relationship with Him. And these are things like how to help a friend who’s depressed or seeing how empty life can be for people at the University of Texas or my current dating status (single). These are all things I can’t honestly talk to God about without wanting them to change.

I often avoid praying about these things, because I’ve prayed about them 15 times already and I’m just not sure that number 16 will produce anything different. Other times I don’t ask God for things because I feel like that’s not the responsible adult thing to do; maybe I need to have more of my own initiative or maybe I just want the credit instead of the help.

This is where I think kids have it figured out. They don’t know how to just be realistic. Kids are okay with needing help with things. Not only that, but it also takes them a while to accept a no for an answer.

I think I know what it takes to be socially acceptable, and for some reason I’ve tried to be like that in my relationship with God—prim and proper. Forgetting that before Him I really am just a kid (no matter how old I may dress), in need of His loving help and grace, to the point that maybe I should be quicker and more persistent to ask for it. I’m not pretending to really understand prayer or what it does, but I think it probably involves being more kid-like, even if it annoys me.


[ relevantmagazine.com ]

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