Child Like Trust

By Vicki Johnson

Oh, to be a child again!

A daily desire for some; a repulsive concept for others. As a child, I remember thinking how I couldn’t wait to grow up and be an adult so I could do my own thing and be my own boss. The adult world always seemed ideal, as I peered through childish eyes.

The tables have turned and now my spectacled vision regards my childhood days with envious longing. Those days are history,yet, my Lord draws me back to re-live them in light of eternity.

In Matthew 18, verse 1 the disciples ask Jesus a question they had been mulling over for some time.   “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” they ask.  In essence, who is greater, larger, elder, and stronger? I get the idea the question was asked with a supposed answer in mind. They simply wanted Jesus to confirm their assumptions. But, Jesus’ response would correct their focus from worldly perceptions to heavenly insights.

“ And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18: 2-4 (ESV)

Jesus gave the answer nobody wanted to hear. That happens to me so often.  I ask Him a question after I have worked on the possible answer just to have Jesus come at my pre-conceptions from a totally different approach. Not fair, Jesus! I wasn’t ready for that one. He is the ultimate game changer.

So, who is greater, larger, elder and stronger in the Kingdom of Heaven? A child. A little one. The one who must look up to find her answers. One who must trust for strength from above to lift her higher than she could go herself. It is the child who asks for guidance at each turn and step of the way. A child doesn’t disguise fear, loneliness, and anger. She knows that fear is changed to courage, loneliness to belonging, anger to peace when she comes to her Father’s throne of Grace. She knows that she isn’t the Beginning and the End of all things, but she is a part of the One who Is, and that’s alright with her. Her response to Grace is uninhibited joy, wonder, and praise for the Grace Giver.

Mature faith is child-like trust. The kingdom of heaven is made of this.

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Attitude Adjustment?

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Jonni and Emily

by Jonni Sliver

Sometimes I struggle to maintain a “Christian Attitude”. I know that doesn’t sound good coming from a missionary. I also know that my battle is not against flesh and blood, and that the families of the children we receive are sought after by the Spirit of God, the same as the children are. But there are times when the reality of what has been done to our little ones is just more than I can handle.

Emily is two and a half years old. She is an absolute princess – lovely, sweet, smart as a whip and affectionate and funny. She has been with us for nearly three months but it is just the last month that we have been able to  see a lot of those qualities because she arrived in a state of near panic, trusting no one – step by step she opened her little heart to first one of the house moms, then another. Today she is open and trusting in all of us. That is why I was able to take her to a clinic this week to have tests run, this sweet little lady squeezed my fingers  as the nurse drew blood and giggled as I turned a rubber glove into a balloon for her.

That giggle filled my heart but didn’t take away the anger because of why we were there.  The tests are for HIV, Hepatitus B and C, and Syphilis (I mentioned she is 2 and a half, didn’t I?). She is with us because her father treated her in forms I can’t even talk about. She is also with us because her grandparents, who say they love their grand baby, feared their son more, and so let him take Emily for visits, even though the child cried and begged them to not go. Emily learned that adults can’t to be trusted.

Recently my devotional reading was in Exodus 22. The chapter is basic law, pretty cut and dry: if this happens, this is the penalty. That is until you get to verses 22-24:  

“Do not take advantage of the widow or the fatherless. If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. My anger will be aroused, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives will become widows and your children fatherless.”  

When talking about the defenseless, God takes the situation personally. He hears, His anger is aroused, He acts! As I read those words I felt something being released in my heart. God understood my struggles with my attitude. He understands my anger, because what Emily has gone through angers His heart too! On the other hand, He doesn’t ask me to act out my anger against what Emily’s father has done. He is able to settle accounts; He is responsible for bringing justice. What the Lord has asked me (us) to do is to minister His healing, His grace into Emily’s life (and all of our children’s hearts, no matter their age or scars). And that work is our privilege!

Editor’s note:  Jonni recently let us know that this precious little Emily’s tests all came back negative!  Praise God!

The Potter, the Clay, and Do-Overs

by Jonni Sliver

I am having a really hard time writing you today. I am feeling fine, but am completely distracted because I have Daniel in a stroller next to me and he is just too cute to not pay attention to! Daniel is five months old and is the son of Odette, one of our house mothers. While she is making lunch and working with the children Daniel spends a fair amount of the morning in our office, distracting the staff with baby conversation and adorable aerobics (biting his toes, practicing for a swim meet as his little arms and legs swing with impressive rhythm). This precious little guy is firmly convinced that he is among the most amazing of children, because he is surrounded by people who tell him every day.

On the other side of the wall is another little one – Emily is 2 and a half and when she arrived a month ago she was convinced that she couldn’t trust anyone. She was afraid of everyone, the house moms and the rest of the staff, the other children. Fortunately she arrived at the beginning of a two week period when there were only a few children in the Home, because she needed time to adjust. By the end of the first week she trusted one person – house mom Neide; but when Neide went home she cried until she fell asleep. By the end of the second week she trusted all four of the house moms, but no one else – not even the other children. By the third week she had begun playing with the other children (a good thing, because by then we had several new children!) as long as she could see one of the moms she trusted. Now, after a month, she has begun laughing and even lets adults who aren’t one of the moms pick her up – if she can see a mom!

Now, why would a two year old have such a firm conviction that you can’t trust people. Because, like Daniel, she was surrounded by people who taught her. It is heartbreaking to think of, but her father regularly abused her, and even as a tiny little girl Emily knew that her mother and grandparents couldn’t or wouldn’t stop him. So she learned that grownups are people that hurt you or let you be hurt.

If I stopped now, you may never read another of my blog entries, it is just too sad. But there is good news! We didn’t go out and find Emily; God brought her to us! And He brought her to us for a reason; He has healing for this precious little girl. He is the Potter and she is the clay; though others have done their best to mar this young life, the Potter is able to remove every mark and create in her the strong, joyful spirit He intends for her. We can’t undo what has been done to Emily, but we can rejoice and participate in the bright future she has before her, and I am so glad for that!