In theory, it is easy to agree with Jesus’ praise of God’s preferential option for “the childlike”—that is, God’s perpetual choice to call upon and reveal things to the unwise, the underqualified, those marginalized and otherwise overlooked. In fact, on most days this is what I say I love most about our God.
I marvel at this divine attribute until God calls my name.
When I glimpse God’s gracious will—in a conviction of conscience; or the Spirit’s stirring in prayer; or an irrefutable sign, like a burning bush, unconsumed—I am prone not to Jesus’ confident praise but to Moses’ doubt and denial.
“Who, me? Speak to Pharaoh?” I contest. “On behalf of all these people—people who need real help? I am but a humble shepherd, a bumbling disciple, an average citizen. I am a laywoman in a big, old Church. Surely, I am too small, too unskilled, too ‘childlike’ to participate in your plans for our world.” Because Moses bargained with God, I think that God has patience for my objections, too.
But eventually Moses stopped objecting and went to Pharaoh. He must have concluded that God’s call to him was more than just a nice idea. Eventually, he must have believed that this is truly what our God does: God picks little guys like him—the “childlike,” the barren couple, the migrant family—to change the world. He must have come to believe the truth of God’s reply, “I will be with you.”
But will we? Will we believe it when God next calls our names, mere children though we may be?