Worms don’t live in trees

Published May 29, 2012 by joypatton

The first day of summer vacation, I was sitting on my deck in the morning sun with a cup of tea.  I had some quiet time because there was no one to rush out the door, no buses to catch, no carpools to run.  God and I began to talk about Matthew 18:3.  “Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

I realized that I do not want to become like a child.  I don’t want to end my life with people saying, “She was just like a little girl.”  I don’t want to go back to knowing nothing about the world.  I want to know something.  I don’t want to be naive and innocent.  I want to be wise and experienced.  I don’t want to be dependent on other people to meet my needs.  I want to be independent.  So much of my life is an effort to be something, to do something, to know something.

I began to wonder if I, the mother of four wonderful children, despised children.  I wondered if I did not value them.  I enjoyed their love of life, their ability to trust and love so fully and so effortlessly.  I just didn’t want to go back to being like one.  I wanted to have some knowledge, to feel like I knew what I was doing.  Being a child felt like going backward and everything in me wanted to go forward.

Just then the door opened and a sleepy little Hope crawled up into my lap and snuggled in close.  I put down my pen and my journal and enjoyed the moment.  We sat quietly for a minute, and she looked at the trees overhanging our deck.  She said, “Worms don’t live in trees, right momma?”

“That’s right,” I said.  “They mostly live in the ground.”

Then the Lord whispered to me.  See, children do know some things.  They just don’t know everything.

Hope, even though she was only five, knew that worms don’t typically live in trees.  She had some instinct of knowledge about the world.  As a child, she knew something about worms.  As an adult, I have a little bit more knowledge.  I even dissected a worm in high school, so I know what one looks like on the inside.  I know lots of interesting facts about worms.  However there could be some kinds of worms that live in trees that I don’t know about.  After all, I don’t know everything; I’m not an expert.

Even if I did become an expert on worms and knew everything there was to know, my knowledge of worms would still be a fraction of what the Creator of the worms knows.  Even if I studied this subject my whole life, it would be a tiny drop of all the wisdom and knowledge God possesses about worms.

The same was true for all the areas of life I was tempted to make myself seem like an expert.  I realized that even if I did know something about marriage, motherhood or women’s ministry.  Even if I gained some understanding about God’s Word or how his world was made to function.  Even if I happened to have some insight about relationships, it was all just a tiny drop in the bucket of all that my Creator knew.  It was probably not even a drop; more like a molecule or even an atom.  His desire was not that I know nothing.  He wanted me to know something.  After all, He, the source of all knowledge and wisdom, has given me life experiences to learn some things.  But only he knows everything.

Because of my black and white, all or nothing way of looking at the world, I equated being a child with knowing nothing.  But the truth was that I did know some things.  The problem occurred when a child who knew something thought that she knew everything.  How absurd would it be for Hope to give me a lesson on worms!  If she had tried, she would probably get most of it wrong.

Yet this is what I do when I say to God, “I know how to do this.  I got this one down.”  I proceed with my limited knowledge and make a huge mess.  How much better would it be to admit that I am a child, who knows something, but not everything!  While I do know some things, I don’t know everything.   I need to remember my proper place in the universe: worm.

“I am a worm and not a man…Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you.  On you was I cast from my birth, and from my mother’s womb you have been my God.”  (Psalm 22:6, 9-10 ESV)  The amazing thing is the God loves even worms and children.  He has placed value on them and cares for them as much, if not more, than he cares for large animals and adults, kings and queens.  It is only because of him that I am anything more than a worm.  It is only because of the things that He, the Great Teacher, has taught me that I have learned some things about life.  His rightful place in the universe is Sovereign God.  Instead of trying to be the one who seems like she knows everything, I need to rest like a child in the lap of the One who does.  “Right papa?”

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