Recovering Childlikeness

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Jesus took a little child and set him in the
midst of His disciples, not to tell the little child
he must become like Peter and James and John,
but to tell Peter and James and John that
they must become like that little child.

—F. W. Boreham

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Growing into Wonder

2eb4a860001a17954de660ffWe mature as wonder expands.
We grow up as we become
as little children.
–Peter Leithart

Published in: on 04/06/2016 at 19:04  Leave a Comment  
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The serious business of play

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We are not meant
to be perpetually
solemn:
We must play.

–C. S. Lewis

Two ways to live

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There are only
two ways to live your life.
One is as though nothing
is a miracle.
The other is as though
everything is.

–Albert Einstein
(1879-1955)

Published in: on 11/11/2014 at 3:13  Leave a Comment  
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Growing up into childhood

Reading book

There is a childhood into which we have to grow, just as there is a childhood which we must leave behind; a childlikeness which is the highest gain of humanity, and a childishness from which but few of those who are counted the wisest among men, have freed themselves in their imagined progress towards the reality of things.

–George MacDonald
(1824 – 1905)

Bubble gum and greatness

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When Jesus is asked who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven, he reaches into the crowd and pulls out a child with a cheek full of bubble gum and eyes full of whatever a child’s eyes are full of and says unless you can become like that, don’t bother to ask.

–Frederick Buechner
Telling the Truth

Joyful uncertainty

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We are uncertain of the next step, but we are certain of God. As soon as we abandon ourselves to God and do the task He has placed closest to us, He begins to fill our lives with surprises.

When we become simply a promoter
or a defender of a particular belief,
something within us dies.

That is not believing God — it is only believing our belief about Him. Jesus said, “. . . unless you . . . become as little children . . .” (Matthew 18:3 ). The spiritual life is the life of a child. We are not uncertain of God, just uncertain of what He is going to do next. If our certainty is only in our beliefs, we develop a sense of self-righteousness, become overly critical, and are limited by the view that our beliefs are complete and settled.

Appalachian_Trail_400

. . . when we have the right
relationship with God,
life is full of spontaneous,
joyful uncertainty
and expectancy.

Jesus said, “. . . believe also in Me” (John 14:1 ), not, “Believe certain things about Me”. Leave everything to Him and it will be gloriously and graciously uncertain how He will come in— but you can be certain that He will come. Remain faithful to Him.

–Oswald Chambers
My Utmost For His Highest
(emphasis added)

Childlike faith

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Faith cannot be intellectually defined;
faith is the inborn capacity to see God
behind everything, the wonder that
keeps you an eternal child.

–Oswald Chambers

Published in: on 01/29/2013 at 2:16  Leave a Comment  
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The miracle

The miracle is not . . .
having wealth or fame.
The miracle is having toes
and a tongue and fingers
and knees and a nose.

The miracle

The miracle is not . . .
walking on water.
It is walking on a planet
where there are blackberries,
waterfalls, sunsets,
hummingbirds, rainbows,
butterflies and penguins. 

Awe and familiarity

Awe is the condition of a man’s spirit realizing Who God is and what He has done for him personally. Our Lord emphasizes the attitude of a child; no attitude can express such solemn awe and familiarity as that of a child.

—Oswald Chambers
(1874 – 1917)

Putting away childish things

When I was 10, I read fairy stories in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am 50, I read them openly. When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.

–C. S. Lewis
(1898 – 1963)

Eternal childhood

Perhaps this will be one of the supreme tests: would we choose the childlikeness of Heaven or the promise of “maturity”, of “humanity come of age” in Hell? Will we suffer gladly the blow and shock to our pride that is Heaven’s gift of eternal childhood (thus eternal hope and progress) or will we insist on the “successes” of “self-actualization” that Heaven denies us and Hell offers us? If the latter, we will find despair instead of hope, ennui [boredom] instead of creative work, and the emptying out of all our joy.

Jesus’ teaching, “Unless you turn
and become like children, you will
never enter the kingdom of Heaven”,
is not something to be outgrown.

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, when asked which are the four most important virtues, replied, “Humility, humility, humility, and humility.”

–Peter Kreeft

Prayer of blessing

“May all your expectations be frustrated.
May all your plans be thwarted.
May all your desires be withered
into nothingness, that you may experience
the powerlessness and poverty of a child
and sing and dance in the love of God
the Father, the Son
and the Spirit.”

–Jean Vanier

Childish or childlike?

A childish book, like a childish person, is limited, unspontaneous, closed in . . . But the childlike book, like the childlike person, breaks out of all boundaries. And joy is the key. Several years ago we took our children to Monticello, and I remember the feeling we all had of the fun Jefferson must have had with his experiments, his preposterous perpetual clock, for instance: what sheer, childlike delight it must have given him. Perhaps Lewis Carroll was really happy only when he was with children, especially when he was writing for them. Joy sparks the pages of Alice [in Wonderland], and how much more profound it is than most of his ponderous works for grownups . . . But in the battering around of growing up the child gets hurt, and he puts on a shell of protection; he is frightened, and he slams doors.

Real maturity lies in having the courage to open
doors again, or, when they are pointed out,
to go through them.

–Madeleine L’Engle

Approachable childlikeness

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (Mark 10:14,15).

The unthreatening childlikeness of Jesus intimidated no one. Both friend and foe approached him freely. The Pharisees and Saduccees attacked him with a fervor they could never have mustered had Jesus walked the earth with a heavenly glow and spoken in a royal, electronically enhanced voice. Children were comfortable around him, which even a surface observation would tell you could not be so without his own childlikeness.

–Gayle D. Erwin

Where’s the cookies?

In His reply to the disciples’ question about who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:1), Jesus abolished any distinction between the elite and the ordinary in the Christian community. “He called a little child to him and set the child in front of them. Then he said,I tell you solemnly, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. And so, the one who makes himself as little as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:2-4).

Jesus cuts to the heart of the matter as He sits the child on His knee. The child is unself-conscious, incapable of pretense. I am reminded of the night little John Dyer, three years old, knocked on our door flanked by his parents. I looked down and said, “Hi, John. I am delighted to see you.” He looked neither to the right nor left. His face was set like flint. He narrowed his eyes with the apocalyptic glint of an aimed gun. “Where’s the cookies?” he demanded.

The Kingdom belongs to people who aren’t trying to look good or impress anybody, even themselves. They are not plotting how they can call attention to themselves, worrying about how their actions will be interpreted or wondering if they will get gold stars for their behaviour. Twenty centuries later, Jesus speaks pointedly to the preening ascetic trapped in the fatal narcissism of spiritual perfectionism, to those of us caught up in boasting about our victories in the vineyard, to those of us fretting and flapping about our human weakness and character defects.

The child doesn’t have to struggle
to get himself in a good position
for having a relationship with God…

He doesn’t have to craft ingenious way of explaining his position to Jesus; he doesn’t have to create a pretty face for himself; he doesn’t have to achieve any state of spiritual feeling or intellectual understanding. All he has to do is to happily accept the cookies: the gift of the Kingdom.

–Brennan Manning

Becoming like children

Jesus tells us . . . “Become like children.” Yet we know this is impossible. In the very effort of trying to become like children . . . we put our goal still farther out of reach. But it is precisely here, perhaps, that we come as near to the heart of the mystery as we are able.

It is just when we realize that it is impossible by
any effort of our own to make ourselves children
and thus to enter the kingdom of Heaven
that we become children.

We are children, perhaps, at the very moment when we know that it is as children that God loves us—not because we have deserved his love and not in spite of our undeserving, not because we try and not because we recognize the futility of our trying; but simply because he has chosen to love us . . . as children, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Frederick Buechner

Childlike expectancy

This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?”

–Romans 8:15 (The Message)

The Pharisee and the child

The Pharisee and the child in the gospels stand for opposite types—one had attained, had closed up, was impervious to anything outside of the closed system and his closed soul, while the child was open, eager, full of questions, explorative. Jesus could do nothing with the one and everything with the other.

–E. Stanley Jones

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