Childlike Maturity… Cultivating an Attitude of Genuine Enthusiasm
“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Luke 18:16-17) What, exactly, might this mean? Why would Jesus instruct us to act like children? Generally, telling someone they are acting childlike is not a tremendous compliment, and might connote immaturity or ignorance. But there are many qualities of children that we can and truly need to embrace as we trust and live out our faith in God. For those of us who work with children, there is never a dull or predictable moment. We might, however, sometimes fail to recognize or appreciate how much we can learn from observing kids. For example…
Enthusiasm: one of the great things about kids is their natural excitement. Kids love life. It doesn’t take too much to please them: a pretty sticker, a new book, a push on the swing…after a few desensitizing years of entertainment and schooling, youngsters can eventually lose that sparkle and begin to adopt an attitude of apathy. But this does not have to be our fate. We can maintain the marvel and glow of childhood when we continually venture to try new things, appreciate the ones we have, and praise God for His daily miracles. Kids enjoy novel adventures but they also do not tire of old familiar things (as anyone who can recite Frozen from memory knows…). We, too, can appreciate both new and old by recognizing that God has given all. After all, God does not seem to tire of starting a new day over again and again!
Radical Acceptance: How often do you see children reject a gift? Unless it is something they just do not want, this is not a frequent event. Children do not fight over checks at a dinner table or hesitate to receive what they are given. They ask for what they want, and accept what they are given. This is how we can receive grace. It is not earned or argued or a burden for us to bear. God’s love and mercy are freely bestowed and our debts are already paid in full. Rejoice!
Trust: Youngsters are generally not too skeptical. They are willing to trust, provided they know that they are leaning on someone worthy of devotion. It’s hard for a parent or loved one to fall out of favor for impressionable kids. If they can have faith to follow us as fallen creatures, how much more so should we be able to lean on our Heavenly Father, who has already established quite a credible track record?
Imagination: For most of us, somewhere along the path to adulthood someone came and told us that sheep should not be purple and trees cannot walk around. But children who have not yet embraced the platitudes of reality have so much wonder and joy in the use of imagination and play. Surely the Creator of the universe has equipped us with creativity, and He delights to see it used to His Glory. Engaging our imaginations keeps us from growing worn out and discouraged, and enhances our lives with joy and possibility. In addition, imagining can bring a special sort of hope. We have not seen God or Heaven with our eyes…but we know that our lives are pointless without them, and through imagination we derive hope and happiness that sustains our lives through difficulty.
So go be a kid again! Find a park to enjoy; read an old cherished book; work a jigsaw puzzle; make a new friend; color something…we are children of the King, and only He can dictate our paths or give directions. Yield to Him, and rest in His loving embrace.