Post written for knowgodknowlove.com:
Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it at all.” (Mark 10:15 NASB)
Think back to your childhood. That muddy, impressionable time of your youth where you stained your clothes playing all day and believed everything your older brother told you. That period in your life when you never thought about germs or money, and every experience was fresh, exciting, and in the moment. No need for televisions and double rainbows for entertainment and wonder — your imagination and a puddle were enough.
… How about now? Do those simple things still suffice?
Now that we’re (much) older, our lives have been inundated with grown-up matters, and we lack the time, energy, and focus to lose ourselves in that which used to bring us such simple joy. And when we observe children playing, we can’t shake the sense of… longing — a yearning to once again feel like we’re that young again.
I want you to ponder this. Why do we experience that longing? What is the appeal? Why is there such a strong desire to return to that time? It’s as if we have lost something as we aged. But what did we lose?
A world free of worry? I can see that.
That simple sense of wonderment? Maybe.
The loss of innocence? Perhaps.
Here’s what I see: As we age and learn to deal with the problems and troubles of this world, we lose, above all things, our ability to be vulnerable.
In today’s world, it has been nearly impossible to hold onto our vulnerability while remaining unscathed. All too often we see trust being violated and our vulnerabilities transformed into crippling insecurities. People are constantly taking advantage of each other, and to ensure survival our last line of defense becomes the worst thing we can ever do to ourselves — withdraw.
We close ourselves, and we become afraid of what’s out there. Even God.
“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12 NIV)
The logic is simple — You are a child of God. He is your Father. But when you cease acting like a child, when you ‘grow up,’, when you lose your trust, when you harden your heart against even HIm.. how will He ever be able to function as your Father?
I cannot stress this enough. If you are to truly survive in this world, you are going to need God. Really. And the only way He will be able to help you is if you acknowledge Him as your Father by accepting yourself as His child. This requires not only humility, but a big amount of — yep, you guessed it — vulnerability.
We must refuse to let bad experiences and past hurts adulterate us from protection and guidance of God. We must be not be afraid to be vulnerable, and we must open ourselves to God without fear, relying on Him to hold our hand as He leads us uninjured through the things that may hurt us. And when we are led to places where we suffer, we must continue to rely on God for strength. A good Father will not make us avoid adversity, but equip us with the power to defeat it. Our God is that kind of Father. He equips us with power from Him, and power borne from our vulnerability with others:
“The capacity to express vulnerability is a great human strength. We sometimes wish our vulnerabilities would disappear so we wouldn’t have to worry about hiding them. Without these pesky vulnerabilities, we could convince the world that we have it all together, that we have no unsatisfied needs, that we can care constantly for others and never need care ourselves. It is hard to let people see our vulnerable parts — our fears and insecurities, our sadness and shame. To express vulnerability requires courage. Only in exercising this courage, in bravely showing our “weakness” to another, do we achieve a form of real power — the power to ask for help when needed.” –– Sarah Parsons, A Clearing Season (p. 38)
Being vulnerable is the first step. If you are a Christian, recall the moment when you asked Christ to enter your life. What did that require? Humility. An opened heart. It is one of the most vulnerable moments of a young Christian’s life.
The raising of the hands during worship. The desire for change. The yearning for freedom from sin. Expressing struggles in small groups. These are all fearless acts of vulnerability, one that takes a lot of humility and trust. But what you receive on the other end is what is most rewarding — the satisfaction of being like a child once again. And with God as your Father… seriously, who can be against you?
“O LORD, my heart is not lifted up;
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.” (Psalm 131: 1-2 ESV)