Forgive Like a Child

Jesus, especially in the Gospel of Mark, elevates children to unlikely places. His comments about children are recurring, likening them to the ones who will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. He refers to His disciples as children, and for those hearing on, flips their world upside down by raising the lowliest of us to a lofty position. Something common for Jesus to do, casting the mighty down, uplifting the humble of heart, and many other unexpected things. I constantly am amazed by the number of times Jesus uses children as examples to explain His followers and the faithful. Not once (at least not that I remember) does He compare those who are saved to the powerful, the learned, the rich, but instead the humble child who is powerless, under authority, and who owns nothing but which that is afforded to them. 

Children truly are remarkable gifts from God. They, at times, can present us with a glimpse of God’s goodness, beauty, joy, and mercy. Of course, they aren’t perfect either. They are children after all and unsurprisingly will act like children, as they should. Yet, we adults often forget this reality. That the three-year-old who amazes us with his vocabulary, his ability to understand certain things, and his ability to soak up every bit of information like a sponge, often reverts to being three, and we act like something is wrong. I had a moment like this recently, setting unfair standards on my three-year-old daughter and getting frustrated when she acted how she was supposed to. Out of frustration, I lashed out, raised my voice, and sent her to the time-out step where she would sit and think about what she had done. A three-year-old. 

After I cooled off, I came back to being reasonable once my frustration had dissipated. I realized that she didn’t do anything wrong. She was merely acting her age. I, on the other hand, overreacted. So, I called her over, and I said, “I’m sorry for raising my voice.” I wasn’t sure what to expect, what she would respond with, or if she would respond at all. Then, amazement came. “I forgive you, daddy,” in the sweetest voice you can imagine, and was immediately followed by a gracious hug. She walked away, went on as nothing had ever happened. There was no resentment, no comments made, later on. It was as if she had forgotten it completely. As I write this, I realize she no longer remembers. It has been wiped away, and her forgiveness was pure. The amazing mercy and grace of a child. A glimpse of the Father’s mercy to all of us, His children. 

I now find myself understanding Jesus at a deeper level and a more beautiful reality than I could have imagined before this encounter. We have all heard about child-like faith, trusting in God as a child trusts a Father or Mother and looks to them for all good things. Yet, at this moment, I realized something else. We also ought to offer child-like forgiveness. Offering this kind of forgiveness is hard for us who are proud, in positions of authority, and who have good memories that hold onto things. But Jesus talks about children so often. Maybe we ought to pay attention to children more, for they resemble more than childlike faith but something deeper. Children continue to amaze me. They continue to be proof of God’s goodness and mercy as he brings life into a dying world, and when we look closely, it appears they can reveal even more about the Kingdom of Heaven than we previously thought. Like the way they show hospitality to another child they have never met. The way they forgive and seemingly forget the wrong that had taken place, and the way they trust in those who provide for them. It is just a hunch, something to think about, something to ponder. But maybe those children in your life are a glimpse of God’s Kingdom here and now until Christ returns.