Why I Can’t Grow Up… I fall too much!
Devotional Thought of the Day:
13 Then some little children were brought to Him (Jesus), so that he could put his hands on them and pray for them. The disciples frowned on the parents’ action but Jesus said, “You must let little children come to me, and you must never stop them. The kingdom of Heaven belongs to little children like these!” Then he laid his hands on them and went on his way. Matthew 19:13 (Phillips NT)
870 Don’t try to be older. A child, always a child, even when you are dying of old age. When a child stumbles and falls, nobody is surprised, and his father promptly picks him up. When the person who stumbles and falls is older, the immediate reaction is one of laughter. Sometimes, after this first impulse, the laughter gives way to pity. But older people have to get up by themselves. Your sad experience is that each day is full of stumbles and falls. What would become of you if you were not continually more of a child? Don’t try to be older. Be a child, and when you stumble, may your Father God pick you up by the hand.
Of all the spiritual writers I have read, and there have been a lot, from every little corner of Christianity, St Josemaria Escriva has had the most profound impact, because of the practical way he sees our faith, our dependence on God. I would recommend his book “The Way,” to anyone seeking a faith that is more than Sunday morning, or 5 minutes reading a devotion the size of a postcard. It is no different today, my 52nd birthday, as his words hit home, and hit home hard.
There is a part of me that wants to know more, be wiser, have words of wisdom and maturity that are profound. To be able to preach words that inspire those who are down, which call people to repentance in a way that they run like mad into the waiting arms of God, trusting in His mercy. I want to help people explore the height and depth, the width and breadth of God’s love for them.
This has been my dream since I was an awkwardly tall 8-year-old with untied sneakers, telling a family friend, Fr. Alex, that I wanted to be a priest, I wanted to tell people about Jesus and give them His body in communion.
At 52, I am still awkward, my sneakers are still often untied, and though my falls aren’t physical, they are still there. I understand Paul’s words in Romans 7 all too; clearly, I am not the mature, wise, holy person I know I should be. In fact, like most pastors and priests, there are days I wonder why I am here. Can’t God do better? Can’t He make me the kind of shepherd these people need? Can’t Jesus find someone who does better with temptation, and able to deal wisely with the evil that is so oppressive?
St. Josemaria snaps me out of this spiritual downward spiral with his words this morning (odd they show up on my birthday, isn’t it?) The best thing I can do is not astound people with wisdom, it is to let them see God pick me up. To let them see the joy in my eyes when He does. To be the child that runs and desires to be in His presence, even if the foolish disciples try to bar my way, I am going to see Him, I am going to hear His blessing.
Hopefully, along the way, I will drag some of my friends with me, and maybe even an enemy or 2….000?
If I pretend to be something other than a child, as I’ve tried, I will still fall. But I will try, as an adult, to excuse the fall, to justify it, to make it out to be less painful. I will force myself to try and get up on my own, only to fall again, and perhaps even harder, or take others with me. But as a child, as one who is confident of God’s presence, who knows His love and mercy, then I know He will pick me up, that He will run to my side, that He will care for me.
Not that I want to fall, I want to make Him proud. But as a child, when I do, I can cry out for help, and He will come.
And if I can teach my people that, and they confidently cry out (knowing His love and mercy) when they fall as well… I’ve done my job as a brother in Christ, and as their pastor. For they have learned about His love… and have experienced it.
A simple cry, “Lord Have mercy on me, a sinner….Papa, help!”
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 2005-2010). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.