Childlike faith…

My best friend said good-bye to her sister today.

My friend loved her sister in a way that you and I can only hope to achieve.  You see, her sister struggled with the chains of drug addiction off and on for more than two decades. My friend can teach us about unconditional love – because she exercised it daily in her relationship with her sister. But her sister – she has taught me about Christ’s passionate pursuit for those we consider to be “the least of these” and about how simple it truly is to accept a gift from the ultimate Giver.

This woman’s death has caused me to reflect on God’s love and of people’s judgment… and I have a few thoughts to share based on a reflection I shared with those at her Celebration of Life service today.  I hope this message speaks to your spirit and allows you to examine your own heart – writing it certainly caused me to examine my own and consider the ways in which it judges others. 

There’s a song I’m sure many of you are familiar with – in fact, it’s one of those “hair band” songs that many of us (myself included) continue to be fond of, especially if you (like me) are a product of the ‘80s.  I was listening to this particular song this weekend, and – as usual –  I cranked up the volume.  After all, that’s how music of the 80s should be played, right? As I listened to Axle Rose (of the Guns N Roses fame) I heard him singing “Sweet Child O’ Mine”  and I couldn’t help but wonder if this would be the kind of song that God would welcome my friend’s sister into heaven with.

Stay with me…

I’ve known my friend’s sister kind of indirectly for over 20 years.  From the really good times in her life – like when her daughter was born – to the times she struggled through what many of us would consider hell – there was always one word that consistently described her:  “childlike.”

Not the immature, childish definition of childlike, but rather the meaning of childlike that embraces fun, looks at the good parts of the world with wonder, and throws its head back in laughter when something is ridiculously silly or funny. It’s the kind of childlike portrayed in an attitude that spontaneously says, “I love you” and welcomes people with no assumptions or preconceived judgments. It’s the kind of attitude I wish I would embrace more in my own life.  

As I listened to Guns & Roses and began thinking about her life, I was reminded of something that my friend had shared about her sister several weeks ago. While in the midst of a very difficult time of her life, my friend’s sister recommitted her life and trusted in Jesus.  She accepted the fact that Jesus loved her because he loved her – because he loved her.

It doesn’t take much – really, just the simple faith of a child – to understand that love doesn’t  have to be all that complicated.

The Bible – Matthew 18 exactly – illustrates the love that Jesus has for anyone who chooses to simply trust.  It’s a love that isn’t dependent upon our lifestyle or the rules that we do or don’t obey. When asked who gets the highest rank in God’s Kingdom, Jesus illustrated his answer by calling over a child and saying – “I’m telling you, that unless you start over like a child, you’re not even going to get a look at heaven, let alone get in.” He goes on to say “whoever becomes simple again – like a child – will rank high in God’s Kingdom.” 

Maybe that doesn’t sit well with those who prefer to justify the entry into heaven upon the things we have or haven’t done – but it sits well with me, someone who hasn’t always made the best choices in her own life. I love knowing that this woman was welcomed into heaven and is now experiencing the peace that she so desperately wanted to find while she lived here on earth. She was welcomed simply because she believed – like a child – that she mattered to Jesus.

As we reflect upon the condition of our own hearts, I hope that we choose to allow God to shape us and mold us by His words in 2 Corinthians 5:17 – that if anyone is in Christ – and I mean anyone – they are a new creation.  

This week, my friend’s sister became a new creation when she left here and entered into the presence of God.  As He embraced her, I’m sure she heard familiar words – once sung by Axle Rose, but now whispered by a loving and gracious God – “Oh, sweet child of mine; oh, sweet love of mine.”   I know she is at peace, and I know she has no more pain – and I’m pretty sure they are having one heck of a party that began when she arrived. After all, heaven rejoices when even just one lost sheep has been found.

Save a place up there for me, Paulette. I’m working on my heart… and hoping it will reflect the same childlike faith and non-judgmental love that you inspired with your life.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. t
    Feb 21, 2011 @ 07:51:12

    Awesome insight! Thank you.

    Reply

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