When I was a child, one of my favorite things to do was to climb onto my swing that hung on a sturdy limb of the maple tree outside our kitchen window. There seemed to be something magical as I pumped my legs to go higher and higher letting the breeze wash over me. The swing transported me to a place of freedom not found when my two feet were planted on the ground. Even now, swinging on a swing gives me that sense of childlike delight, freedom of flight from being earthbound.
These feelings on a swing stir up childhood memories for many of us and are the kind that draw us to places like Disney World no matter what our age. Things there remind us of the very best of our childhood dreams. In that place we have permission to be a child again no matter what our age. It is why you can see as many adults of all ages at Disney World as you do children.
Our days fill up with images and sounds, schedules and “to do” lists, and sometimes we skim across the surface of our lives with our eyes and ears half closed. We too often “live in a dream world” as noted in the popular movie, The Matrix. Sometimes we prefer it that way as we trudge through the day. There are bills to pay and not enough money. There are wounds unhealed. There are ailments and illnesses, losses and loneliness. There are dreams that lay shattered and hopes that are fading. There are headlines that remind us much in this world is amiss. It can be easy to think that is all there is or will be. It can be too easy to see the Lord as seeming to stand at a distance unconcerned with our lives.
We have images of Him in our hearts and minds. Many of them formed long ago when we were younger. Some of those images are marred by a belief He has betrayed us as a result of our abuse, our lack of healing, our shattered dreams, our unfulfilled hopes and desires. Our churches or other Christians have disappointed or disillusioned us and mar some of those images.
I have known those at different seasons of my life as well, but what I have learned is that our images of Him are too small, too narrow, limited, and sometimes too serious. As a result, it can become harder to pursue time with Him and relate with Him in true childlike faith.
As I was journaling after a trip to Disney World and reflecting on the magic of that place, I risked telling the Lord of the delight and wonder I experienced in this manmade place, how it touched places deep inside me unlike anything else. It all seemed so irreverent and unlike any prayers or journal entries I had written before. That day, I leaned in as my heart, mind, and spirit waited to hear His response. What I heard still brings a smile to my face.
He reminded me that He knew about my childhood and if I believed, I could experience childlike wonder even now as an adult. He could show me life from His shoulders where I could see everything better. He whispered that I could come running into His arms and He would never drop me. He softly said that I sometimes made Him into such a serious papa and that He longed for me to see the twinkle in His eyes and the curve of His smile.
Not unlike the images Ken Gire creates in his wonderful book, The Divine Embrace, He reminded me that I could dance with Him, laugh with Him, and crawl into His lap and hide in the folds of His garments IF I would risk being a child with Him.
Only when I risk doing that very thing can He transform my view, grow my trust, help me let go of the control I can try to take over my hours and days. And then, I can know more of Him and enjoy Him in ways I never knew before. I can see things much better from His shoulders. I can rest in the certainty that He will never drop me and never let go of me.