My best friend recently became a grandmother for the first time.  She looks with wonder at the innocence and beauty of the new life before her.  With great anticipation she expects only the best …first smiles, tottering steps, and baby hugs while ignoring the inevitability of blow-out diapers, feverish temples and the tantrums of teething.

Can we look at the new year with that same wonder? Won’t it hold moments of delight…gorgeous sunrises, impromptu laughter, and satisfaction of full bellies at well-laden tables?  Does it matter that the sunrise is at 6:30 am on the way to work and comes with a flat tire?  Or the impromptu laughter is stress release at the end of a shift that should have ended two hours ago? Should those things matter?  Doesn’t the secret of life lie in how we look at things?

Doesn’t the secret of life lie in how we look at things?

I’ve often wondered at the injunction that “…for it is to the childlike that the kingdom of heaven belongs.*”  What does this mean?  Is the kingdom of heaven off limits for those of us who are laden with worry, jaded or anything but lily-pure?  I don’t think so.  Jesus maintains that, “I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”* But there must be a retraining process, a way to erase the bad data we’ve collected through the years in the computers called our ‘mind’.

Recently it came to me that the toddler grandchild of a mobster lifts up her arms to be picked up and cuddled by him with the same measure of trust that my friend’s grandson does.  That granddaughter looks agenda-free upon her hit-list granddad.  

Could it be that one of the secrets of the kingdom of God is that we learn to look agenda-free upon others? Can we strip ourselves of our propensity to expect disappointment?  Doesn't anticipating the failure of others to meet our needs somehow increase the likeliness that we will be let down?

Can we strip ourselves of our propensity to expect disappointment?  

Can we greet each individual we meet with the same openness and delight as my friend greets her grand-baby? Maybe this is part of becoming like little children…part of the retraining process that helps up achieve a more abundant life.

Here’s my wish for 2017:

  •      May we greet the new year and every person in it agenda-free.
  •      May we learn to re-cast the challenges that come our way in this year as opportunities.
  •      May we know that we are never alone because God promises us, “I will be with you always.”
  •      And may we know that kingdom life is in the little things.


*Matt. 19:14 The Centenary Translation

*John 10:10 New American Standard Bible