This morning at work I was showing pictures of our recent vacation to my colleague Dean. Dean is a very devoted Dad who often talks about the activities of his four children. His youngest is a toddler, about a year younger than my oldest granddaughter Sophie, so we sometimes compare notes on how our “little ones” are doing. When I showed him my picture of Sophie playing with her boat on the beach during our vacation (note her delighted expression seen in the photo above), Dean commented on how appealing young children are. He said it was because everything is new to them. Another way of putting this is that they aren’t jaded or blasé about life.
Of course, lest we get too sentimental, let’s not forget that young children are a lot of work. They are almost entirely self-focussed and can be very demanding. But the other side of the coin is that they are also very responsive to affection, they trust very easily, and (perhaps their most appealing quality) their hearts are wide open to wonder. They don’t have explanations for everything. Many things are exciting to them, and the world is full of new discoveries.
As we grow up, we become more independent, more conscious of our own identity, more focussed on our own abilities, goals and responsibilities. We try to control the world through understanding it. It’s natural and necessary for us to grow up to maturity. Yet Jesus pointed to little children as an example of the attitude of the humility and simplicity that is required to enter the Kingdom of God. He wasn’t saying that His followers should stay immature. He was saying that part of true maturity is the ability to stay childlike – to step back from our sophistication and self-importance, and allow ourselves to wonder at the amazing things God has done and is doing. He said that the most important things – the things of God – are hidden from the wise and self-important, and revealed to little children – by which I believe he meant those with a childlike heart.
I have found that when I take time – even a few minutes a day – to shut down my “thinker” and just enjoy the goodness of God in its many forms, my whole day is more positive. My capacities for expectancy, confidence in God, faith, hope, peace, joy and love are expanded.
I want to live a good life – a fruitful, productive, God-honouring life. But I know I can’t do this on my own. I need the grace of God. For too many years I tried too hard to be good and do good. It didn’t work. I have found that when I take time to delight myself in the wonders of God, my life becomes more like the life that was modelled by Jesus. We are told that without faith it is impossible to please Him. Taking time to delight in the goodness of God, with a child’s attitude of wonder, helps me keep my heart tender and expands my capacity for faith.
Lord, help me to walk through life with a childlike heart.