“Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Mark 10:15)
In some ways, I still have a childish nature about me, and it can show quite often. When Nicole and I went to the Washington Midsummer Renaissance Fair in Bonney Lake a couple of weekends ago, I decided that the perfect souvenir was a red dragon hat. I felt I just had to wear it everywhere the rest of the day, without any other type of costume. I looked pretty ridiculous, but I thought it was cool. I was having a great time, and nothing and no one could deter me.
In addition to the silly moments (which are more common than I sometimes care to admit), I retain a number of interests and pleasures from when I was a kid. A few examples: I still like to collect baseball cards. My most common way of unwinding after work is playing games or watching television. I always seem to have a taste in my mouth for something sweet no matter how closely I watch what I eat.
And then I can have childlike defiance as well. I can sometimes balk and try to put off doing things I don’t want to do, attempting to come up with excuses. I don’t like being yelled at or told what to do, or criticized for being wrong. While I can say that I have outgrown throwing external tantrums, I do sometimes respond by going quiet and then sulking or being otherwise reclusive for a while.
I have heard a number of adults state that they are a “child at heart”, usually referring to their personality or specific hobbies, often of a thrill seeking nature. Due to the nature of our lives and the world around us, however, the inner child is easily hidden, and often the fun-loving nature with it. We can find ourselves competing with others to get ahead in our careers or win prizes. We may have to prove we are strong or right in order to maintain a reputation or be a good example to our own children. We might find ourselves so consumed with work or other projects that we shut out everything else and are then overcome by stress or depression that is very hard to penetrate.
But there is absolutely nothing wrong with embracing childlike qualities. In fact, Jesus encourages it. He calls us, God’s children, to Him, stating, “The kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Mark 10:14). It is easy to lose sight of our first and foremost identity as God’s children in anger or fear of the unknown. God may call us somewhere we hate or feel we cannot offer anything, and then it is very hard to do what He says just because He said so. Jonah had that very reaction, and had to have a three-day timeout inside a huge fish. When we feel embarrassed, ashamed, weak, or helpless in some capacity, our human gut reaction leads us to try and find a solution or just deal with it ourselves in some way. We are denying the truth because it causes us discomfort.
If we instead embrace the truth that we are small, there is a lot we will never know or understand, and that we will naturally make mistakes and are likely to have some bad experiences along with the good, then we have the means to reach out to and depend on God much more easily, and grow closer to Him. Like all children, we will learn lessons, have to obey instructions, and will likely be teased or picked on by others around us. But our heavenly Father is always there, to protect, love and guide us. If we know Him, then whether or not we choose to admit it, we are all children at heart. Let nothing hinder that.
Daniel can be reached via email here.