by Lyn Packer
In His Kingdom God calls us to maturity but He also calls us to childlikeness, and God sees childlikeness as a part of being mature. So what are some characteristics of a loved and well-nurtured child?
Being childlike is not the same as being childish, yet we can easily confuse the two in our minds. If we do we refuse childlikeness, then wonder how we grew old and cynical. In September's article I shared about having the faith of God. The ability to 'have faith' for a situation is very much linked with how childlike we are.
One day as Rob was praying and spending time with the Lord, the Lord told him "Rob I am a lot younger than you think I am." An unusual statement for the Ancient of Days to say, you might think, but upon closer inspection we realise that God has an eternal youthfulness of heart and mind.
Many people the world over have for centuries looked for the "elixir of youth" and even today spend millions of dollars trying to keep their looks young while their hearts grow old, cynical and calloused. They fail to realise that eternal youthfulness can only be found in relationship with the one who is eternally youthful, the eternal God.
The Scriptures tell us that Jesus called a child to Himself and said, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." Mat 18:2
In His Kingdom God calls us to maturity but He also calls us to childlikeness, and God sees childlikeness as a part of being mature. So what are some characteristics of a loved and well nurtured child?
- They are totally trusting - yet maturity knows that trusting doesn't necessarily mean being unwise.
- They don't try and work out where the next meal is coming from - they just trust that Daddy will feed them.
- They believe what they are told - especially by their parents. They take their Father at his word.
- They are secure in their relationship with their parents - they don't have to strive for approval or try hard to show they are good enough to be acceptable.
- They know that they are loved - and in that knowing comes absolute freedom to be who they are.
- They freely give and receive affection - a well-nurtured child has no trouble being affectionate and showing love, even to those we may consider unsuitable or unlovable.
- They are inquisitive – they want to know the 'why' about everything. They love mysteries and 'hide and seek'. They love to find the hidden things.
- They love adventure and take risks - they will do things we would not even consider as adults. They somehow believe everything will turn out alright and know they are being watched over and protected.
- They are optimists - They have an innate optimism that permeates everything because they believe.
- They believe Daddy can fix anything - for a child nothing is too hard for their Daddy.
- They know Daddy is bigger than the 'bad guy' - this is related to the point above. To a child their Daddy is all-powerful. They believe right will triumph over wrong, good over bad.
- They love having fun - a child can make fun out of even the most ordinary thing.
- They laugh a lot - children know how to laugh - they laugh a lot. Sometimes as adults we take ourselves too seriously and we need to learn from the child the lesson of lightening up.
- They are not afraid to express themselves – in word or action. They are honest and don't hide behind words or actions they don't mean.
They love to dance - children instinctively know we were created to dance. I want to share a poem here called 'Dance' to remind you that your dance is for the audience of one and it doesn't matter what others think.
Spinning, arms thrown wide
Laughter wells up within me
Giddy with joy
I drop to the ground
But the dance goes on
The child within dances
Free from fear
And shadows that taunt
She spins and leaps
and spins again
Then she bows
As she ends her dance
For the audience no one sees
The audience of one.
I'm sure you can think of many more things besides these that are hallmarks of childlikeness but for now even these are enough for us to work on.
I want to finish by encouraging you to ask Father in what ways you need to become more childlike. Take time to express your heart honestly to the Father, for no one else can express your heart. If you don't, the things you keep locked up inside will cause you to become less childlike and more cynical.
Maybe take the time to do one or both of the exercises below to let your childlikeness surface and express itself.
1. Draw a picture of how you see your relationship with your heavenly Father. Preferably use crayons, as they will stop you drawing too adult-like with fine details etc. Use stick figures and simple drawing. Don't try to make it fancy, you aren't out to prove anything here - you are simply communicating with Daddy. Then look at the picture and talk to Him about it. Where are you and He in the picture - close, separated by distance or things etc...
2. Write a letter to Daddy starting "Daddy I want to tell you something"... then open your heart to Him and share some of the things you have felt unable to express vocally or have kept hidden because of fear of what others may think. Sometimes, to start with, we find it easier to write instead of to speak. Then after you've opened up in writing, begin to talk to Him about your letter.
I have found both these exercises very powerful and they are good to do on a regular basis. I would encourage you to get a journal to do them in. You can also use it to express your heart and thoughts and the things you feel daily as you spend time with the eternally youthful one, your Daddy God. And as you do, know that you will become more and more like Him as you allow His life to fill and change yours.