Growing Up, But Being a Child

AUT_0282Many of us remember the story of Peter Pan and especially the movie as well as the live production aired on television a few years ago. One of the many songs Peter sings is one with the lyrics “I won’t group up”. Peter and his band of boys have many adventures, but never do they want to grow up, go to school, or be forced to do anything adults feel they should do including take responsibility.

J.M. Barrie’s story is a delightful excursion into battles with Indians, pirates, a princess, and of course the sparkling Tinkerbelle. It’s perfect for every child or child-at-heart’s imagination, but I wonder if we recognize when we also struggle with growing up.

I think I grew up being somewhat of an “old soul” whose home life was more focused on chores and responsibilities than playing games and living in a fantasy land of pirates and fairies. It probably took me into adulthood until I realized the fun and freedom of being playful. My grandchildren helped me a great deal in this area, but I still am not as free as they are.

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Consequently, when I saw in the gospels that we are to become like children in our faith in Jesus, it was harder to identify what that would look like. Over time, I grew in my understanding. As I sat alone with Him in my quiet times with journal and pen in hand, He would sometimes seem to speak to me about what it might look like.

In the autumn quite a few years ago as I was journaling with the Lord about this, I sensed Him letting me know that even though I was growing in my understanding of being a child in Him I sometimes made Him into “a serious Papa” and that I needed to see Him smiling, eyes twinkling, and delighting as He did with children as He walked the earth. As a child, I would trust Him without doubting or questioning if He would be there for me.

He gave me a sense of the absolute trust a child has when a loving dad invites his child to jump into his arms. The child doesn’t question whether the dad will be there. The child believes the loving, caring, and strong daddy will always make the catch and jumps without doubting.

He seemed to give me permission to know that enjoying Him in that way did not diminish my reverence of Him if I trusted Him as such a child would do. Very clearly, my journal that day sensed these words from His heart to mine, “You’re allowed to laugh with me, dance with me, crawl into my lap and hide in the folds of garments, but you will need to learn to risk more and be more of a child with me.”

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I knew He was not suggesting I be childish or irresponsible. There were battles to fight, but not with imaginary Indians and pirates. There was the need to serve selflessly rather than with self as focus as is often true of us as children.

So what would it mean to grow up while yet being a child? The best description came from C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity. Let me share it with you.

Christ never meant that we were to remain children in intelligence: on the contrary. He told us to be not only as ‘harmless as doves’, but also as ‘wise as serpents’. He wants a child’s heart, but a grown-up head. He wants us to be simple, single-minded, affectionate and teachable, as good children are; but He also wants every bit of intelligence we have to be alert at its job, and in first-class fighting trim.”

8 thoughts on “Growing Up, But Being a Child

  1. I love the idea of a being in Christ is both a child and an adult — I never thought of it like that. I really enjoyed reading your blog, and do empathize about never really being able to be fully a child growing up–I had some glimpses of child-like playfulness, but was the oldest daughter so became a little mommy. I’m so glad Jesus taught you what it truly means to be childlike!
    I’m thankful for your visit to my blog today to have a chance to read your blog! Look forward to continued sharing!

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    1. Good morning, Kathy! Thanks so much for visiting and your encouraging feedback. I look forward to continued sharing as well and seeing how the Lord is working in both of our lives. Have a beautiful day!

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    1. Thanks, Mary! I can appreciate that! As my grandchildren are getting older (The youngest one is 10.), I will need more reminders as well. Thanks for visiting. I will visit your site as well. Took a peek and am excited to read more.

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  2. I’m listening to “Abba’s Child” by Brennan Manning. He does a good job of helping us learn to live as God’s precious child. I enjoyed your post. It complimented what I’m hearing in the book.

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  3. Hi Pam! I like how you helped make the distinction between being childlike, but having a grown-up head. I also have a blog post to write about being childlike, I don’t think it’s an easy concept, and we benefit from each other’s insights!

    I read recently that it is such a gift that Jesus asks us to call His Father, our Father too. The author reasoned that Fathers do not dump their kids at the first sign of trouble, or reject them because they goofed up. Again. A Father loves his children forever. Isn’t that beautiful?

    Monday blessings!
    Ceil

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    1. Hi Ceil! I’ll look forward to your post on this topic! I like what you have read and agree. My exception would be for those who have had fathers who abandoned or abused them. My counseling experience has shown it is very difficult for them to see Father God without the “father” filter they have which often makes it hard for them to trust or believe in what they hear about Him.
      Beautiful and sunny here! Hope it is for you as well!
      Pam

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