The other day I felt God prompting me to send a web design proposal to an organization that I knew needed a website. I put it together and sent it off to the administrator, I’ll call him Mr. Brown. A few hours later he replied.
“ We are; in fact, currently completing building a new website which we hope to have online in the next few weeks. We will retain your information for future reference.”
It sort of felt like a slap. Maybe it was the “in fact” he threw in there. Or the tinny sound of a canned response. Or maybe it was just me. Rejection is not something I do very well. And really, it was God’s idea in the first place. I wondered why God would have me create a proposal for a job He knew I wasn’t going to get. I felt a bit rejected by Mr. Brown. And as I experienced that feeling swirl around me, then rise up and threaten to overwhelm me, I began to take authority over it in Jesus name. I began to resist it as a dark thought and spirit, not from God.
Immediately after I did that, I saw a picture of Jesus giving me a high five. Grinning and slapping me on the back for what a good job I’d done on the proposal. Telling me how proud of me He was. For the next few minutes, I saw myself throughout all the years of my childhood bringing my schoolwork home and seeing Jesus there, grabbing it out of my hands so excited about what I had done. He waved it about, showing everyone. He put it on the refrigerator making sure whoever was around saw it, and He kept saying, “Look at what my girl did! Isn’t she something?”
I saw that every single effort I’d ever made was not missed by Him. He saw, He loved, and He delighted in every piece of work I’d ever done. He was excited with me when I chose a purple crayon for the grass in my picture at age five. He never asked me why I didn’t use green, as though I’d made a questionable design decision. He just really enjoyed looking at my purple grass.
There was such exuberance in His joy of my work and of me. I saw a kaleidoscope of the school years go by and saw Him excited and pleased every time I did my work. Every single time, I delighted Him. Every time I tried something new, whether I failed or succeeded, He was there, His eyes lighting up, His smile so bright, His hand up always ready to give me a high-five. His excitement was tangible. His feet dancing with His passion for me and every single thing I did. Every single day.
I didn’t know that about Him. I didn’t know that about my work. I didn’t know that each one of my efforts had so much value. I finally, deeply, understood that I am always, every single day, completely accepted and loved by God. And so are you.
“The Lord your God is with you; his power gives you victory. The Lord will take delight in you, and in his love, he will give you new life. He will sing and be joyful over you, as joyful as people at a festival.” Zephaniah 3:17 GNT
For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” Romans 8:15
I have been a follower of Jesus since I was a child, but not really. Not like one of the apostles or disciples, it was more like a game of hide and seek where I did most of the hiding. From the early days of ‘accepting Jesus as my savior,’ through years of teen angst and finally to a prodigal’s reception of the Father’s love, Jesus actually followed me and would not let me go.
As I age, I seek for a simpler life. It is no longer important that I charge the mountains of achievement or ford a great river to prove my worth and strength. I long for peace, faith, hope and love. In recent years, my relationship with God has shifted. He speaks louder or maybe I just listen harder. He comes closer or perhaps I simply stopped running. I don’t know exactly what ignited this precious gift of His presence but I am changed by it. I am being made childlike with a fresh trust in His goodness.
Do you remember the gifts of childhood? Gifts like curiosity and wonder? The gift of living where time has no meaning and is not even a concept? There was the ‘now’ and something nebulous about a ‘yesterday,’ unless it was shadowed with memories of pain. And back then, ‘tomorrow’ was just a word not yet instilled with hope or fear of what may come in a time beyond ‘now’.
To be like a child is to be given a gift of faith and curiosity and wonder. A gift of understanding that God does not only speak in metaphors. He has literal plans and purposes in the stories He tells. In the pictures and dreams He gives, there is a glimmering reality. He is famous for making something from nothing. It is what He does best. He touches us with His God-ness, His goodness and creates beauty from ashes, humans from dust, birds and fish with His voice. He planned and created a system in nature that profoundly touches the curious from the beginning of time. The wonders of river systems and watersheds, rain and clouds, oceans and weather cycles.
The Way of a child of God is the way of wonder, curiosity, seeking and finding. The way into the Kingdom, the way of receiving the Kingdom, is coming to Jesus curious and open to wonder. Like a child approaches an Iris for the first time—touching, smelling, eyeing every little flower thing closely. No fear, just wonder and curiosity. What if we approach Jesus and His kingdom that way? What would we discover? That is the journey I am on today and the rest of my days because I have seen the King and He is wonderful.
This is what the Lord says, he who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it—the Lord is his name: ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’ Jeremiah 33:2-3
He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Mark 10:14b-15
God is fun and He is in a good mood. That’s a new idea for me. I did not arrive in adulthood believing life was fun, so it was quite a surprise when I felt Jesus laughing during my prayer time one day. The joy that filled the room was electric and I finally understood the verse, “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” There was power in the joy I experienced at that moment.
I discovered that playing brings me closer to God. Learning the Art of Play is an activity He is using to create a childlike heart in me, a heart that trusts and experiences wonder. I discovered the art and science of bubbles as an adult. Someone bought me a Big Bubble set as a gift. Little did they know how fascinating it would be. I think perhaps it was meant as a joke, but it captured me. There is science in bubbles: elasticity, surface tension, chemistry, light, and even geometry. There is art in the colors and the flight and there is wonder in the fun of making and watching them float.
It’s true that I have become childlike in some ways. Healthy ways, I like to think, although you may disagree because as adults we are supposed to be, well, adult-like. I am not saying I abdicate my responsibilities, only that I have found a way to have joy while doing them and also to make more room in my life for intentional play. This new, childlike, heart opens my eyes each day to things that inspire wonder and cause me to experience God everywhere. It encourages me to keep looking for Him in all my living.
This new foundation also led me to a children’s book about living in the kingdom written by Bill Johnson, Mike and Marilyn Seth. As I read Here Comes Heaven!, I got excited over how it explains our place in Christ and I realized I was never taught these things as a child. The basics of how to know God were delivered in pieces that seemed random to me and they were filled with a list of things I either had to do or make sure I did not do. It always felt like work and a heavy burden. This little book, on the other hand, is teaching me how to know God and the power of Jesus’ resurrection and how to live in His spiritual kingdom. Now that is something I have always wanted to know.
I think when we miss out on certain experiences in our childhood, like fun and the joy of our salvation, God uses play to heal us, to show us who He is and that He is joyful and truly good. He told the disciples to let the children come to Him, then explained that for any of us to enter the kingdom we would have to be like children. So today, I encourage you to grab your bubbles and come practice being childlike with me.
Mark 10: 14b-16
Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them! For the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. And He took the children in His arms, placed His hands on them, and blessed them.