“I assure you and most solemnly say to you, unless you repent [that is, change your inner self—your old way of thinking, live changed lives] and become like children [trusting, humble, and forgiving], you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3

Lately, more than ever, as I watch my niece interact with the rest of the world, this verse has become paramount in this stage of my life. By her interests, reactions and desires, she’s unknowingly taught me something invaluable about our Father; the authentic relationship which He invites us to. For example, a few of her favourite words/phrases remind me just how much she enjoys my presence and needs no confirmation that I’ll always be there, but also that she respects my authority:

“Together”

‘Let’s cook together’; ‘let’s clean up together’; ‘let’s go upstairs together’; ‘let’s poo together’ – my family is normal, I promise. All of her sentences probably end with ‘together’ and I know why now. We have built a deeply connected relationship in which the idea of doing life alone has become so foreign to her. I’m constantly aware now that God has made us beings dependent on social interaction, it was never His intention for us to do life alone. He wants us to do it with Him. To do it together:

For the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6

Elijah said to Elisha “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” 2 Kings 2:2

A lot of the times, I’ll much prefer to do what I need to do alone because it always feels like it gets done quicker. I mean, I have the power, the ability and my own motivation right? But truthfully, there is no greater joy than doing it together, with my niece. Can you see it? God does not need you; He has the power, He has the ability, He has His motivation, but as a father, He welcomes you to work with Him. He invites you to become more deeply and intimately acquainted with him.

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labour. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

“Look at me!”

Yep! She is 3 years old and on a serious mission. She demands my attention, and when she says this she means it. Holding my head between her small soft hands, drawing it forward (aggressively may I add) to her face, she definitely means it. I laugh because she is a child but sometimes I think she is something more. And she is; she is a reminder of truth.

 “My son, pay attention to my words and be willing to learn; Open your ears to my sayings” Proverbs 4:20

She holds my face with such urgency, making sure I listen to every word she says. She also wants me to value what she is saying because to her it is very important, but most importantly, she wants me to value our time together just as much as she does. Pay attention to the word(s) of God, take heed to them, they bring forth life. Hold it close, aggressively if need be and pay attention to His words because He is speaking and He knows the value in what He saying, and you should too.

“Let [my words] penetrate deep into your heart, for they bring life to those who find them” Proverbs 4:21

“Okaaay!”

* Face down with a deep sigh and hesitant, she surrenders when she says this very word. I would always ask my niece to give me the last of whatever she is snacking on. She looks at me, looks at her last piece of snack-a-jack, then looks at me and looks down again. When she says ‘okaaay’, I simply say thank you and let her enjoy what she saved for herself. I never truly required or desired what she had to offer, I wanted her willingness to give, and every time she surrenders her will, I fall in love with her even more.

And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” Luke 9:23

THIS is what the father requires: your willingness. What are a few pieces of cucumber and grapes to a big girl like me? Please, c’mon. That’s not what it is about, and most times we make substitutions of what we think God wants but what He truly wants is our willingness to be conformed to the image of His son. So ask yourself this: Father, which death do you require of me now

But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Philippians 3:7

Look out, see and observe areas He is speaking to you and calling you to sacrifice. He will show you through the people around you. It could be through trees and nature, a kung fu panda movie, or even breakfast, but know that He is always speaking, the question is are you open to pay attention and listen? Accept the invitation to behold Him in the staff room, on the playground and even at your desk at home. He wants you to do it all together.