One of the joys of technology is that I can spend time with my grandchildren even though they are in Devon in the UK. Both of them are now of an age where they are happy to talk to me and show me things they have done or made via the computer or smartphone screen. They seem to understand that even though I am not physically with them, I am nevertheless able to be present with them in a way that is interactive and authentic. To spend time with them in this way is still a profoundly moving experience. Oh yes, they can drive their parents and me to some extent to distraction, yet the innocence, openness, honesty and simple trust of the very young, coupled with their unquenchable zest for life, makes for something uniquely precious. Every parent and grandparent will know the feeling of wanting to preserve those qualities forever, safeguarding them against the ravages of time. That in part forms the premise of stories like Peter Pan. We can’t do that, – each of us has to become worldly-wise to survive in the harsher realities of daily life.
Yet while much that is childish is by necessity outgrown, there are certain childlike qualities we lose at our peril. However old we are, we still need to look at the world with wonder, glimpsing God within it, if our souls are not to be starved of nourishment. We need to trust God even when we do not understand what is happening to us. We need to approach life with that same openness and that same hunger to learn, seeking God’s help and guidance in our unfolding journey. It is one thing to be childish, quite another to be childlike. Have we lost sight of the difference?
Have your experiences of life left you cynical and disillusioned? Have you made faith too complicated, losing your sense of childlike trust?
Perhaps we should be reminded of the event recorded in Mark’s gospel. Jesus is surrounded by all his disciples, when he takes the hand of a child standing by him and puts the child in the middle of them all. He tells them, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not just me but the one who sent me.” (Mark 9:37)
Perhaps this can be your prayer this week? Gracious God, grant me the wisdom of advancing years, together with the innocent enthusiasm of a little child by your grace help me to keep both untarnished. Through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen
Shalom to you my friend,