This past summer, my wife and I had the blessing of having our daughter and her three young children stay with us for an entire month. Having grandchildren around every day for an extended period of time gave me a new perspective on children, their relationship with God, and our relationship with God that somehow I did not comprehend when my children were younger. One morning, I was in the kitchen preparing some food. My four year old granddaughter saw me and asks, “Papou, what are you doing?” Before I can respond, nor let alone turn to look at her, I hear the sound of a chair being dragged across our hardwood kitchen floor. She makes her way over to me, dragging the chair, so that she can climb up on the chair and see what I’m doing. As she is climbing the chair, she asks once again, “Papou, what are you doing? Can I help?”

Thinking about this scenario, which repeated itself in countless other ways throughout their wonderful time with us gave me some new insight into the statement our Lord made to His apostles, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). In observing my grandchildren, I saw that they have an innate desire to be around me as their Papou. They want to do what I’m doing. I came to the realization that to be a child of God, is to live in His presence; to share in His life, and to want to be doing whatever He is doing, just like my grandchildren are with me. Being a Christian is none other than being a little child completely dependent on our Father, trusting in Him, and living with Him, moment by moment, each and every day. The problem that most of us suffer with in this life is that we forget God. We forget that He is around us. In the next life, our Faith teaches us that we will never forget God. We will never be unaware of His presence. Our task in this life therefore is to struggle to make God present to us. He is indeed present, we are just unaware of it. There are many ways in which we can try to make ourselves aware of God’s presence. One is saying as often as possible The Jesus Prayer, which is simply, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!” Another way, according to Saint Theophan the Recluse, is to always ask God to bless any task that we begin, and whenever we finish a task, thank Him for having allowed us to complete it. One more way still, according to Father Zacharias of Essex, is just to continually say to God, “Thank You!” There are certainly many other ways we can bring God to our mind; the most important thing is that we try to live in His presence— knowing that we are His Children and live in such a way that reflects this.

Our work, every day, and all day long, is to live in God’s presence, sharing in His life, continually asking Him, “What are You doing? What can I do? What would you like me to do?” We need to be like children and live our life in Christ, like our children and grandchildren live their life in us. It really is that simple. We just make it complicated, because we don’t remember God, and we don’t ask. The church fathers go back time and time again to a particular verse in the book of Deuteronomy: “…ask your Father and He will tell you…” (Deuteronomy 32:7). God has given us a commandment to love Him with all our mind, heart and soul (Deuteronomy 6:5) and to always do His will (Matthew 6:10; Mathew 7:21). Does not God know that we don’t know what His will is? Yet, He expects us to do His will. How do we do this? We have to ask. Even more so, we have to reorient ourselves into being His children, and live in Him. As Matthew 18 tells us, we must be converted and become as children. This means that being a child of God is a process into a different way of living. Imagine having a life of peace — trusting in our loving God and having total confidence that He will take care of us. Isn’t that how our children and grandchildren relate to us? Don’t they have peace and carefree lives?

May we all be converted and become like children!