Coming As a Child


(A repost from February 2010)

I’m continuing from yesterday’s post: “Coming As A Child.” This theme is on my mind because I’m preaching from Matthew 18:1-6 this morning (“[Jesus] said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”) In preparing, I revisited these wonderful words from G. K. Chesterton on the youthful vitality of God Himself:

“A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy’, for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. (G. K. Chesterton. Orthodoxy. Colorado Springs: WaterBrook Press, 1994, 2001, p. 84.)

Nearly every time I lead a group in solitude, silence and prayer, someone experiences God inviting them to be somehow playful or child-like. A couple of weeks ago, it was a businessman who sat on a bench and watched bunnies in a park. That wasn’t on his weekly planner, I guarantee you. He was humbled and grateful for God’s gracious care for all that He has made.

Another woman, probably seventy-something, shared sometime back that in her time alone with God, He brought back to mind scenes from her childhood in Hawaii. She shared how refreshing, encouraging and energizing it was to remember this chapter of her life at God’s invitation. Her countenance was youthful.

How might God be inviting you to childlikeness today? Can you take a moment to play, enjoy the beauty of nature (even in your own back yard)? How might God be inviting you to join Him in His “do it again”?

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An Abba Prayer


Earlier this year, in a day retreat setting, I wrote the following personal prayer:

Abba,

Thank You for this morning in community with brothers and sisters I have enjoyed in Christ. I need them. I sense Your presence in them. I am grateful to share You in common with them.

I wish I had known You as I grew up in my family. We did not share a sense of Your presence among us in those years. I’m saddened when I think about how You could have enriched us in that season of my life.

I long for a more confident realization of Your love for me–Your affection, Your recognition, Your delight in me, Your affirming presence. There are very young places in me that feel profoundly unloved, abandoned, and unwanted. These childish and youthful places sometimes crave love in ways that would wound me. These without-God impulses grew out of an undersized awareness of Your faithful love for me in my childhood.

Enable me to know Your love that I will never fully comprehend. Strengthen my inner person to live in abiding communion with Jesus Christ. Amen.

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Coming As A Child: Part Two


I’m continuing from yesterday’s post: “Coming As A Child.” This theme is on my mind because I’m preaching from Matthew 18:1-6 this morning (“[Jesus] said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”) In preparing, I revisited these wonderful words from G. K. Chesterton on the youthful vitality of God Himself:

“A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy’, for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. (G. K. Chesterton. Orthodoxy. Colorado Springs: WaterBrook Press, 1994, 2001, p. 84.)

Nearly every time I lead a group in solitude, silence and prayer, someone experiences God inviting them to be somehow playful or child-like. A couple of weeks ago, it was a businessman who sat on a bench and watched bunnies in a park. That wasn’t on his weekly planner, I guarantee you. He was humbled and grateful for God’s gracious care for all that He has made.

Another woman, probably seventy-something, shared sometime back that in her time alone with God, He brought back to mind scenes from her childhood in Hawaii. She shared how refreshing, encouraging and energizing it was to remember this chapter of her life at God’s invitation. Her countenance was youthful.

How might God be inviting you to childlikeness today? Can you take a moment to play, enjoy the beauty of nature (even in your own back yard)? How might God be inviting you to join Him in His “do it again”?

Buy a copy of Orthodoxy: Centennial Edition on Amazon.com

Coming Like a Child


[Thank you to many who took a moment yesterday to respond to my posted questions about how you use this blog. If you haven’t taken a moment to do that, I’d very grateful for your feedback. It will help me know how to move forward in its continued development]

I’m sitting in my hotel room near Phoenix getting ready to lead a morning mini- spiritual retreat for couples here. I can’t think of anything I enjoy more than guiding time and providing space for men and women to be still and remember God more deeply.

In my preparations, I came across this wonderful word from an Orthodox spiritual director on why we come to God as children. Be encouraged!

“The kingdom is already granted to little children, not, I think because of the subjective qualities that we tend to appreciate in them, such as their cuteness, their smallness, or their playfulness. The kingdom is theirs, I suspect, because objectively they are vulnerable, weak, lowly, and helpless. Left to themselves, they would die. This “Ieastness,” I submit, is their title-deed to the highest place in the kingdom of God, the same God who Ii once became an infant for us, who became “least” for us on the cross.” (John Chryssavgis. Soul Mending: The Art of Spiritual Direction. Brookline: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2000, p. 6.)

As you come before God today, in what ways is your prayer child-like? In what ways are you coming more as adult? Pray to Abba, your heavenly Father, remembering He has anticipated your approach. He loves to be with His beloved sons and daughters.

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