“The tooth fairy still comes, the rainbow still shines after the rain and the monsters still have never come out of the closet at night to get you. Then one day it happens. . . “
After several years in kids ministry I used to look at those innocent, seemingly wise and well balanced kids who just had a simple faith—I always marveled at how I could pray for a sick child and nearly always there would be a healing, because the child just believed God would heal them; ‘Pastor Dan prayed for me, God answered the prayer and I am better’, it’s just that simple, but I would look at them and think, if only they could stay that way.
Puberty hits and they go insane. The world lures them into dark places and they become irrational, confused, rebellious and doubtful. What happened to that even keeled happy child? It’s a question that still haunts me. Not all kids go insane at puberty but they all face challenges that try their good sense and their faith. All we can do is hold on to the promise that if we train them up in the way they should go, when they are older they will not depart from it. We build the foundation, the rest is up to them.
And take it from one who has been around long enough to see it happen, that return—more often than not it does happen. God never gives up on our kids, on his kids, no matter how old—we are all his children and he still has a plan for us.
And God still has a plan for you, your days are still written in his book and he wants to share them with you, to lead you on in a spirit of fearlessness and trust, trusting your Abba Father—your Daddy.
For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, Rom 8:15—16
Most of us know this with our heads, but it’s hard to live it. We need to get this notion into our hearts, it needs to become instinctive, overriding all other fears, all external stimulus to the contrary and ghosts of the past. We need to listen to the Spirit, that this would become such a part of who we are that we don’t even cognitively recognize all the time that it is the Spirit talking to us, we just know that we know that we are a child of God, free from fear, free from bondage to anything but the love of Christ to which we willingly submit, placing our hearts into the hands of the one who loves us more than we can ever fathom. Trusting the hands that never fail.
Child of God
We start out trusting, as infants we trust that when we scream our mothers will comfort us. As we grow we trust that we will be fed, nurtured, we take love for granted, it’s just there because it always has been. When our parents or any adult for that matter tells us something we believe it. We have an innocence, a trusting wonderful and palatable innocence where we imagine everything is fair, everyone is good and life will go on and only get better.
That’s the childlike faith the Lord says we must have if we are to enter the kingdom of heaven. One that trusts the hands of the one who calls us like a child taking the hand of his daddy as they cross a parking lot together. You might not understand all the dangers and why you need that hand but you know it is there, that it is important, and that your Daddy wants you to hold it. So you just do, and it is good.
Then you start to experience more and more of life, you get into school, riding the big bus all by yourself, having to listen to a teacher who doesn’t think you are the center of the universe, interact with other kids whom you discover aren’t all always nice and willing to share the crayons with you. Some even call you names.
It’s okay, you are still loved, you are safe. Then you start to see and hear things, stories from other kids, TV shows, lessons in the history books; life isn’t fair, nor is everyone nice, in fact far from it. Life is still good though, you are safe, you are loved. The tooth fairy still comes, the rainbow still shines after the rain and the monsters still have never come out of the closet at night to get you.
Then one day it happens. Someone you thought could be trusted does something to you that you never imagined happening, maybe more than once. You don’t know what to do with it so you just shut it out, you try to pretend it’s okay, in fact they tell you it is. ‘This can’t be okay. . . well, I don’t know. . .’
And then someone leaves that you thought would always be there, the love you counted on is gone. The pain inside becomes not only sealed inside but now you feel alone and betrayed. But you don’t know what to do with that.
Life goes on, people start to ridicule you simply for trying to be good, you are not cool, you are a loser until you discover that if you do this one thing, you suddenly gain some acceptance—the mocking slows down, ‘maybe you are cool?’ The one thing leads to more things and you are loved by many but then the ones you desired most to love and accept you now turn on you—“How can you behave this way? You are such a disappointment, I don’t know what got into you.”
Now you feel more alone then ever so you retreat farther inside, fully harden your heart and shut out everyone—‘no one is going to hurt me again, no one understands me, no one cares—I don’t care, no one is going to tell me what to do, no one is going to step on my heart again.’
That little child inside is now dead, killed by life, and the person that takes his or her place is scarred and battered, but will survive; ‘I will do what I want when I want as hard as I want.’ From then on our reflexive mode to any provocation, to any potential hurt or reminder of past hurt is anger. We do not trust, we do not care, and we do not share. We remember those long ago days when life was simple and we somehow were happy without all the stuff we do now just to ty to feel normal, to appease the flesh, but we know we can never go back.
Then along comes Jesus who says: ‘trust me, I have been there too, I have experienced the hurt and betrayal, I know the heartache and have felt unimaginable pain both physical and emotional and I can give you a future.’
So we ask him in to our hearts, we are no longer dead, we can be that child again, and it is glorious— for a while. Until life rears its head and taunts us, and we remember past hurts, our reflexes kick in and we shut down and shut in. ‘No one is going to hurt me again, trust no one, fear everyone.’ We learn to manipulate and extract what we need from others because we fear we will never get it any other way.
Now, I made that story up entirely as I was writing it but I’ll bet every one of you at some point in that wondered if I was talking about you. . . because for the most part—that is the human experience, and sadly, it is as far as many believers get— that is their life story; the end.
They get saved but stop short of healing, of renewal, of true and lasting peace, the peace that comes as a result of knowing with our hearts, not just with our minds, that we are children of God, that we have a Daddy who will never leave us, never forsake us, who will always be there to hold our hands as we walk across the parking lot of known and unknown dangers. We are still in bondage to fear.
We don’t have to be. Choose not to be.
We have to accept the healing, to just believe that it has happened just like those little kids—‘pastor prayed for me,. God heard, and I am better, Stop hardening your hearts, we have to stop responding to every point of stress that threatens us, to memories of the past, to taunts of the enemy with the fear of a helpless child.
You are no longer innocent, no longer ignorant of the ways of the evil one—you are a warriorand you are free, you are no longer in bondage to the flesh, you are a joint heir with Christ and you are victorious, you just need to recognize it, you need to live it—it has to become your new normal, muscle memory,’ I can do this in my sleep’, reflexive, instinctual, ‘that is just who I am now’ intentional victory. I have a life to live, a plan to fulfill and a God who loves me and I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Retrain your brain to come into line with what your spirit is telling you— that you are safe in the hands of your Father. He holds your heart and he is never letting go.