ronniemcbrayer300 grayKENTUCKY (11/25/12) - One of my favorite Brennan Manning quotes is about heaven, but only indirectly. It’s more about how to best live our lives today. Manning says, “Heaven will be filled with preschoolers. No adults will be allowed admittance.” Brennan’s quote duplicates the words of Jesus: “The Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like children,” Christ said.

Jesus wasn’t idealizing childhood or emphasizing a child’s innocence with those words. No, he was pointing to the status of a child. If you want to get somewhere spiritually, Jesus says, you don’t get there by clawing your way to top. You have to descend to the lowest possible place in the social strata. You humble yourself, because you have to get small to fit through the door that leads to the kingdom of God.

So every time we feel ourselves being led away from childlike simplicity and dependence upon God, we must return to the nursery, remembering that there can be no status-striving in the ways of God. We resist and remove those things that lure us into a state where we are not wholly and completely dependent upon God.

No, the world doesn’t operate this way, but this is exactly why the witness of the church is required. In a society marked by smear campaigns, scraping and fighting to get to the top of the heap, grotesque levels of inequality and greed, broken promises and broken deals, cheating and killing just to get to be number one, when we become as humble children, we show society a better way to live.

Thankfully, from time to time, God gifts the church with those rare individuals who remind us of Jesus’ words. One of those people was a French teenager who lived a century ago named Therese Martin, better known today as St. Therese of Lisieux. Therese entered a Carmelite convent when she was only 15, with one ambition: To become a saint.

The Carmelites certainly lent themselves to her pursuit. The Carmelites demanded strict obedience, continuous prayers, long periods of fasting and silence, vows of isolation and poverty, and overall a severe approach to spirituality. This was the perfect place for one looking to achieve the peak of the religious honor system. And this was the exact place that Therese utterly failed.

Six years into her cloistered life in the convent, and suffering from poor health and debilitating bouts of depression, she realized that all her striving and religious go-getting was useless. She was exhausted by it all, and simply could not do it. Giving up on sainthood altogether, and despairing of life, it was about this time that she read a single line from the book of Proverbs that changed everything: “Whoso is little, let him come to me.”

She named this discovery “The Little Way,” realizing that the only way up, was down. For the rest of her very short life (she died at the age of 24), she quit trying so hard at trying so hard, and learned to become a child once again.

She wrote, “Children are always giving trouble, falling down, getting themselves dirty, breaking things; but all this does not shake their parents’ love for them…I rejoice to be little because only children, and those who are like them, will be admitted to the heavenly banquet.”

Often critiqued as overly simplistic and naïve, Therese and her “Little Way” are rejected by those who feel the need for greater complexity or intellectualism in their faith. Maybe these critics reject her conclusions because they simply feel the need for more: More responsibility, more steps up the religious ladder to the top, more ways to gain respect, status, or a higher standing, and the need for a more honorable reputation.

Yet, Therese was right on target, and not because her way ironically led to her sainthood. She was right because her way reflected the way of Jesus. And reflecting Jesus is more than enough, because his way, “The Little Way,” always leads us to abandon ourselves like a child, into the arms of God.

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, speaker, and author of multiple books. You can read more and receive regular e-columns in your inbox at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.


Disclaimer: The content supplied by columnists and letters to the Editor on this site does not in any way, shape or form, implied or otherwise, necessarily express or suggest endorsement or support of any of such content, statement, or opinions therein. SurfKY News does not necessarily adhere to or endorse content provided by outside non-staff sources.

e-max.it: your social media marketing partner

LIKE SurfKY on Facebook - Click here to LIKE us now.

© Copyright 2015 SurfKY News Group, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without permission. SurfKY News encourages you to share this story on social media.

In Other News...

'The Patrick Rudd Project' Encourages Community to Support Veterans

MADISONVILLE, Ky. (5/28/15) — When we read history and we read about the conflicts of our great country, we realize the… Read More

Endowment Hosts Forum Addressing Legal Issues, Nursing Home Decisions

MURRAY, Ky. (5/28/15) — The Murray Calloway Endowment for Health Care is sponsoring a public forum on legal issues for… Read More
1 DOW 18,126.12
-36.87 (-0.20%)    
2 S&P 2,120.79
-2.69 (-0.13%)    
3 NASDAQ 5,097.98
-8.62 (-0.17%)    

Most Read This Week

May 23, 2015 7925

Missing 5-Year-Old Boy Found

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
May 27, 2015 6659

VIDEO: Sparks Fly Over Hanson Rezoning Issue

by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
May 28, 2015 4423

Four Charged with Burglary for Entering Elderly…

by SurfKY News
May 25, 2015 3770

Can Sunscreen Save Your Life?

by Melissa Patrick
May 27, 2015 3492

Midnight Ride on Rabbit Ridge Ends in Jail

by SurfKY News

Most Read This Month

May 15, 2015 10976

New Madisonville Business In Full Operation Soon

by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
May 23, 2015 7925

Missing 5-Year-Old Boy Found

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News

Stories Trending Now

May 28, 2015 4423

Four Charged with Burglary for Entering Elderly…

by SurfKY News
May 28, 2015 1335

Greenville Man Charged with Rockport Robbery,…

by SurfKY News
May 28, 2015 1135

Livingston Street, Hanson Rezoning Request…

by SurfKY News
May 28, 2015 871

Teens Injured When Vehicle Crashes into Tree

by SurfKY News
May 28, 2015 851

Dawson Springs Woman Charged on Drug Offenses, DUI

by SurfKY News
May 28, 2015 679

Southside Elementary Wins $30,000 in National…

by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
May 28, 2015 642

Slaughters Student, Madisonville Faculty Member…

by Joyce Riggs
May 28, 2015 568

Hopkins County Health Department Food Scores Thru…

by Barry Franklin
May 28, 2015 398

'The Patrick Rudd Project' Encourages Community…

by Ron Sanders