My son slipped the yogurt out of the fridge while I was packing school lunches for my daughters.

He carried it delicately over to the living room coffee table.  Then he shoved his hand down through the foil lid and started eating it.

With his fingers.

When I caught him with his snack, he popped his hands up to the top of his head, covering his light fuzz of hair in vanilla yogurt.

Bath time!

He eats with his hands.  He plays with his food.  He dumps out any drinking cups we leave lying around and then splashes in the mess.

He has a magnet for the cat food and would love to lay down in the litter box and act like it’s a day at the beach.

In the morning, he makes a mess of breakfast and makes a mess of playing.

Then he hears that first hint of sound from behind the closed door of our bedroom. It’s his clue—Dad is awake and getting ready for work!

My baby boy runs to the door and stands crying until we open it up so he can throw himself against Daddy’s legs.  For the rest of the morning routine, Daddy has to brush his teeth one-handed and eat his breakfast with a toddler on his lap, and shift the toddler from hip to hip while he puts on his coat.

      Daddy is here.  My son will not let him go, not until we pry his hands and body away and Mom holds him tight as he cries and watches Daddy head out the door.

Usually, we’re in a mad scramble to wash my little one’s hands before he snags onto Dad’s pants leg in the morning and refuses to let go.  After all, Dad hardly wants to head to work with vanilla yogurt and banana all over himself.

But I read through this verse again this week:

but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14 ESV).

We’ve heard it a million times and I’ve heard the sermon illustrations before.

Come to Jesus like a little child:

Come trusting.
Come simple.
Come excited.
Come small and insignificant.
Come unhindered.

And it’s true.  All of it.

Jesus welcomes us just as we are.  He invites us!  He’s pleased to see us and pleased to spend time with us.

But there’s something more, I realize, as I wipe my son’s face and hands yet again this morning.

     Come messy.

Too often we’re frantically scrubbing ourselves up before we let Jesus see us.

We think our prayers have to be ‘just right.’  We think our Bible time has to be ‘just so.’

We put off spending time with Him because we haven’t gotten it all together.

But the easiest way for Satan to defeat our prayer lives is to tell us prayer has to be hard and that we’re not good enough, so why bother even trying?

Maybe we think that’s in Scripture somewhere: “Come to Me when you have it all together and know how to pray for 30 minutes and haven’t lost your temper in a week and have had a 20-minute quiet time at 5 a.m.”

But that’s not what Jesus says at all.

He says to come as a child.

He also says:

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28 NASB).

In A Praying Life, Paul Miller writes:

“The criteria for coming to Jesus is weariness.  Come overwhelmed with Life.  Come with your wandering mind.  Come messy.

We don’t have to pretend in His presence.  We don’t have to be something we aren’t.  We don’t have to be perfect.

When we’re a mess and when we’ve messed up, just come. Come without guile.  Be real and honest. No need to clean up and make ourselves sound “holy.”

Just. Come.

To read more devotionals by Heather King, please visit her blog here:

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