Perhaps it's the Christmas season or just my recent frame of mind but I found myself thinking about my children a bit this week. I'm petrified of the day when they lose their innocence. Now, by legal standards, neither of them are really all that innocent. I mean, they've fully indulged in the wonders of lies, assault, and other fun stuff that kids learn right out of the womb. Yet, I'm talking more about that full-on, veil lifted from the eyes painful revealing that shows you how much darker the world really is. Now, if that sounds a bit, well, cynical, it is.
But I hope that day is a long time coming. I hope that my son will still love playing with his Star Wars toys and zapping bad guys for a long time to come. I hope that a game of UNO with his dad or a 30-minute episode of Blue's Clues will continue to bring delight to my kids' eyes forever. I fear so much for that time when they become over-busy, cynical (yes, like me), and scarred. The freshness of their youth, the wonder of the world around them, I don't want them to ever lose that.
Yet, how do we as parents help them to avoid those paths? Do we help them to avoid them or simply follow along that it's just the way the world works? I don't want to shelter my kids because that's simply foolish, and quite frankly keeps them from so many other wonders that they may experience. But I don't want them to just jump out there either, for as soon as they do, I fear they'll be swept up into the rat race, desensitized and run dry. It's a quandry for sure.
As I was thinking about some of this, the words of Jesus came to me:
Luke 18:15-17 (MSG) : People brought babies to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. When the disciples saw it, they shooed them off. Jesus called them back. "Let these children alone. Don't get between them and me. These children are the kingdom's pride and joy. Mark this: Unless you accept God's kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you'll never get in."
What is that simplicity? What is it about a child that makes them so readily available to the Kingdom of God? I think it's the ability to focus, to allow the one thing to really become your all. And to maintain a sense of wonder, of trust. We, or at least I, have lost that to some degree in this hurried world. Who can we trust? The government? Our churches? Our friends? Our jobs? All will let us down eventually. All will ask more of us than we truthfully feel we can give. And we will run ourselves ragged looking for acceptance, money, pleasure, and more.
Yet, the little child, while still having so many of these same needs, learns to trust that he will be provided for. He doesn't lose sleep over where his next meal, his next set of clothes, or his next toy will come from; that's Mom and Dad's job. He also finds glory and wonder in all that is around him. The simple sculpture of sand in a sandbox provides amazement for the child as does a simple song or time spent coloring. And the darkness of this world? Again, Mom and Dad will protect us!
I mentioned focus but neglected to flesh it out. If you've ever been around a kid or, God bless you, have a child who's set his or her mind to something like, say, going somewhere or doing something, you know what I mean. This thought, this idea, becomes the driving force for that child. It never leaves their mind, nor their lips, as they constantly remind you of it. And as I think of our relationship to Christ, and our reluctant reliance upon him, this is the quality that we most lack, that of focus. We need to learn to make our relationship, our time, our desires, to be his and his alone. Only then when we do that will we find true peace.
It's funny because so often I'm excited to be teaching my kids new things, letters, numbers, words, and more. Yet, it seems, I'd do better off learning from them.