"People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, 'Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs.'" (Mark 10:13-14)
I am regularly struck by the vulnerability of my fifteen month old daughter. "Well, duh, Jeremy!" you may be thinking. But there are times--when I am changing her or bathing her or even just carrying her down the street--that I am particularly aware of how vulnerable she is. She is so helpless. Without a protective, caring person in her life all manner of terrible things could happen to her.
In my own mind, I tend to distinguish myself from her. She is a baby and vulnerable. I, however, am a grown-up and strong--I can look after myself! (Again, "Well, duh, Jeremy!"). But what I think I fail to appreciate is just how vulnerable I am, too--in different ways than a baby, but vulnerable nonetheless. I may not be in my 20's any longer and so have shed my youthful notions of being "indestructible," and yet sometimes I still have this sense that bad stuff won't happen to me.
But heart wrenching things happen to people of all ages every day. No matter what illusions we have, the truth is that we are all vulnerable and none of us is indestructible.
When Jesus gathers children around himself and tells us that the kingdom of God belongs to them, what I think he is reminding us is that it is in our vulnerability that we can fully appreciate and grasp the nature of God's love for us. It is not through our illusions of strength or power, but in our vulnerability that God is revealed. And so if we wish to have a deeper, fuller experience of God, then at some point we must be willing to acknowledge that we are indeed vulnerable and that it is only by the grace of God that we rise to each new day.
So when I become aware of my daughter's vulnerability as I care for her, it is for me a little glimpse of God, a small reminder that it's OK for me to be a vulnerable, fragile human being--because that is how God created us and where God meets us.
Prayer: God, welcome me, a fragile human being, into your presence just as Jesus welcomed children into his embrace. Amen.