When I Grow Up to Be a Child

I’m sure there are many reasons Jesus said, “Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). But surely one of them had to do with a child’s capacity for experiencing amazement?

To a child, worshipful wonder is natural. Children possess a delightful curiosity that causes them to run toward that which astonishes them, rather than shrink back from it or simply shrug it off. When it comes to awe, children are the experts. 

And yet, it is this capacity to truly wonder that is often one of the first casualties of growing up. As we become more routined and “used to” life in this world, we seem to become less surprisable. More cynical. And more numb to glory, even when it’s right under our noses.

It may seem counterintuitive, but Christian growth is a gradual downward movement toward the maturity of childlikeness. Have you ever met a Christian in their later years whose eyes sparkled bright with life? That is a person growing toward childlikeness of heart, not away from it.

A Hermeneutic of Adoration

We need only open our eyes to the signposts of God’s glory all around us that our self-absorption has blinded us to. God has graciously given us a world to inhabit that is dripping with his creative majesty, reminding us that we are standing in a story that is much, much bigger than ourselves. And he reveals a picture of himself to us in his word that is anything but dull. 

The late pastor Eugene Peterson called this “cultivating a hermeneutic of adoration.” A hermeneutic is simply our way of reading the Bible. Adoration means deep and worshipful love. Putting these two words together, Peterson encourages us to read God’s world and God’s word hand in hand: 

“Look at the world with childlike wonder, ready to be startled into surprised delight by the profuse abundance of truth and beauty and goodness that is spilling out of the skies at every moment . . . And then practice this hermeneutic of adoration in the reading of Holy Scripture.”

My heart remembers how to adore when I slow down long enough in the rush of 21st-century life to earnestly gaze upon the creative genius of God. A late summer-night sunset in the Isle of Skye, alive with unspeakable purples and reds; the delicious sounds of a crackling fire; the existence of coffee; the stillness of dawn; the smell of Australian rain; the ridiculousness of llamas; the laughter of a daughter. If I pay attention to God’s world, I am assaulted with delight.

Remember That God Is

And when I stare into God’s word, I am reminded that he who created all the beauty I just described is the same one who spans the universe with his hand (Isaiah 40:12); who calls forth all of the trillions of galaxies, that each contain hundreds of billions of stars, which he knows all by name (Psalm 147:4). Stars like VY Canis Majoris, which is big enough to swallow up a few quadrillion earths and still have room for dessert. The Scriptures point to a God of unmatchable wisdom, unlimited riches, and unsearchable judgments (Romans 11:33). Nobody who catches even the faintest glimpse of this God walks up to him with a swagger or away from him with a yawn.

So go ahead and stare dumbstruck for a while at the magnificent otherness of God on display in his world and his word. Don’t worry about how small it makes you feel. Embrace it. For small is what you are. Behold your creaturely dependence, and then raise your eyes as high as you can strain them to the heights of God’s uncreated permanence. In that place, grownups are again made childlike, and the life-weary are renewed with wonder.

Are you thirsty? Do you feel dry with God? He invites you to come and drink. But remember, you must receive him as he is. He will not be managed any more than a Galilean thunderstorm or a Narnian Lion.

Remember that God is God.

Remember that God is other.

Remember that God is.

Ramsey

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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