CHILD OF GOD OR ADULT
“As we mature in our faith, are we in fact loosing a quality that is essential in our relationship with Him?”
Maybe we should rethink this maturity thing. . . .
A few days ago, it was my friend Steve’s birthday. Laura and I interrupted a meeting at his office to give him a card and gift. Laura, with characteristic boldness, opened the office door and said: “I don’t know what is going on in here but it can’t be as important as celebrating a birthday!”
Steve came out, laughing, and said something profound. “You know, God called us to be his children, not adults.”
We all laughed, but I walked away from there thinking about Steve’s comment.
Jesus called a small child over to him and put the child among them. Then he said, “I assure you, unless you turn from your sins and become as little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. Matt 18:2-3
But although the world was made through him, the world didn’t recognize him when he came. Even in his own land and among his own people, he was not accepted. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. John 1:10-12
You have read many articles in this newsletter about growing spiritually, reaching maturity, and fulfilling your purpose in the kingdom of God. But there is something to what Steve said regarding our relationship to God as His Children.
When I am walking with my children, and we see a place where there is a lot of mud that we may have to walk through, their first reaction is “Oh boy, let’s have some fun and get muddy” while I think “Let’s not get our clothes dirty.”
Often when we are in Nicaragua at the local swimming hole, where there are trees and rocks to jump off, Luk, Mik, and even Arielle and Moselle are so excited to see what sort of gymnastics they can do before they hit the water. My thought is first “We are a long way from an emergency room.” They think of the fun, I think of the potential problems. When it comes time for a trip to somewhere, my children are eager to go see friends, and enjoy the experience. I often think of the time it takes to get there, and the expense involved, as well as the things that I have to do when I get back.
They think as children, and I as an adult, which is natural.
I see this also happening in my spiritual life.
When I first go involved with the Miskito Indians over 20 years ago, we had to move a 37,000 container of relief supplies to one of the most remote spots on the planet. Since I had not done this before, my attitude was: “God will take care of this.” He did, and in a very spectacular manner. If you would like to read this incredible story, Click here: Signs Along The Way
When Augusto Vicente came to ask us in 1985 to help him begin a school for refugee children, we supplied him with school materials, and the following year Sharon Washburn arrived from Washington to help us train teachers and begin a really effective primary education project. Again, God moved in a very incredible manner.
I was a “child” in those days. I didn’t know what it would really take to get a project of this nature off the ground and running. I had child like faith that God would provide all that we needed to move cargo, and educate children in a very isolated corner of the hemisphere. Today, I am more of an “adult”. I know now what it actually takes to make these things happen, and the cost in time, sweat, finances, and emotions. When I think about starting another school project, or any massive undertaking, I am more an “adult” in my thinking. That can be good and bad. I hesitate and think of all the obstacles to overcome, and the personal cost. That is my “adult” side. The spiritual child in me says again: “God will take care of all the details.”
Being a child in the Kingdom of God is important when it comes to three things:
When I tell my children that I will provide something for them, like a computer, or a bicycle, or even food for the next meal, they accept me at my word without another thought. I have never heard any of my children ask me: “Poppy, where are you going to get the money for that?” They know from their life experience with me that when I make a promise like that, they will see it happen.
“We are going to Nicaragua next week kids, start packing your bags.”
“How are we going to do that Poppy? You haven’t even repaired the ceiling in my bedroom yet from the hurricane damage? And what about the teacher salaries for this month? Have you paid those yet? Do we have any money for our tickets?”
No, this conversation has never happened. They take me at my word, and let me figure out the details. That is a good quality for us all to have with our Heavenly Father. When He says something is going to happen, we should start focusing on getting ready for the event. That is life in the spiritual world.
Have you ever watched children play? They get loud, excited, and often very emotional. They get caught up in the games that they are playing, like nothing else exists outside of the playroom.
When I watch my children playing, often I ignore their pleas to join in, because I “have too much stuff to do”. We often come to a worship service, and spend most of the time thinking about what we just left at home or at the office, and how we are going to figure out the problems that we have. It takes me a while to actually “get into” worship with my emotions.
That’s because of my life experience, and my preoccupation about things in my job, family, and personal life. Look at the meaning for some of the words in Hebrew that are translated “Praise” in the book of Psalms. One of them is “Hallal”, which literally means to act “clamorously foolish” when we relate to God. David did this when the Ark was brought into Jerusalem. His dancing was “foolish” to his wife Michal, and she was rebuked by David and eventually the Lord for her attitude. Read the story in 2 Samuel 6:14-23.
Are we holding back out emotions when we come before the Lord? Are we bypassing those moments of joy with our children and friends, because we have too many other things piled high on our plate? Do we have a false sense that silence and unemotional behavior in church is reverence to the Lord? Maybe there is another, more godly way. . .
All of my children have tested me at an early age with disobedience in small things. I watch for this, to let them know that in our family, there is order and a way things are done. After that, I have generally seen an attitude of “Poppy said that we have to . . . “ with compliance to what I have said. There are many exceptions to this of course, but generally the Bagby children do the things that we tell then, out of respect, trust, or maybe fear of bad consequences if they don’t. It’s probably a combination of all three. What is important is that I have convinced them that I know more than they do, and that I love them, and have their best interests at the center of my heart.
Jesus told his disciples right before He went to the cross:
“If you love me, obey my commandments.” John 14:15
In essence, Jesus was saying: “If you believe that I love you, and will do anything for you, and we have a relationship of true love and respect for one another, then do the things I am tell you to do, because they are for you own good.”
When my children were all about 3, I took them all to the street by our house and showed them the big trucks and cars whizzing by. “Don’t go into the street”, I told them. “These cars will flatten you like tortillas.” So far they have obeyed me. Now I am trying to transfer that “trust and obey” concept to other areas like morality issues with my now teenagers.
God wants us to “trust and obey”. He after all, created all this, and understands it better than anyone. What a privilege we have to have Him guide us through life!
The bottom line in all this is generally children have more fun in life, they have less stress, and are more loving to us adults that we are to each other. This is a lifestyle that I need right now as I am faced with the challenge of paying my bills, accomplishing my work load, raising my children, caring for my wife, and doing this all in a culture that is more and more against me in my moral and spiritual values.
What about you?