Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Age of Innocence

Do you ever wish you could go back? To childhood, I mean.

For the most part, I don’t.

But I have to admit, many things seemed simpler then.

Like faith and trust and love and forgiveness.

Growing up sure nicks that in the bud, though, doesn’t it?

Experiencing the world’s pain and deceit leaves us jaded, depressed, cynical, reserved, cautious, defensive, leery, smarter, wiser – an adult.

Yet, Jesus explained to His disciples that unless we “change” and become like “one of these [children]” then we can’t enter His kingdom. (Matt. 18:3)

I guess I’ve always seen that as a word picture, like being reborn in the family of God – the second birth required to remove the heritage of Adam – being “born again.”

But His imagery, I see, is not completely figurative. It’s more tangible than that.

He’s really asking us to take on the countenance of a child.

That’s not to say we’re to be childish. Paul admonishes us to graduate to spiritual meat as opposed to remaining content with spiritual baby formula. (Heb. 5:12-14)

What Jesus might have meant was we must become as innocent as a child.

Well, how do we accomplish that after all those evil experiences with the world?

First, accepting Jesus means we’ve been washed, our personal sins have been eliminative. So, like in a courtroom, we are made innocent again.

But also, we are to behave like innocents, displaying faith, trusting without reservation, loving without measure or doubt, forgiving easily.

Here’s the kicker – do that despite the scars left by the world’s pain and deceit.

We all have them – some scabbed over and healing, others gapping and festering – wounds – caused by a myriad of evils that we encounter in the every day life of living in a fallen, imperfect world.

Few of us, however, have prevented those wounds from standing between us and the required disposition of an innocent child to possess characteristics like - unyielding faith, unquestionable trust, unconditional love and freely-offered forgiveness.

We make excuses. We harbor bitterness. We covet. We worry. We accuse our Perfect Lover of being something it is impossible for Him to be – imperfect. Or at least as far as His love for us, specifically, goes. He might love others perfectly, but boy, has He screwed up with us!

Oh, how He longs to heal us! And comfort us. Yet, for that, we must also become like children, trusting enough to stand in His embrace and allow Him to minister to us.

I heard a sermon once about the 23rd Psalm that created an image in my head so beautiful, I’ve never seen the well-read Psalm the same again.

The pastor filtered through every verse, giving a history/anthropology lesson on the nature of Shepherds and the nature of sheep. The verse that touched me profoundly was the end of #5 – “You anoint my head with oil…” – because he explained that at the end of the day when the Shepherd brings the flock into the protection of the fold/pen, He inspects each delicate face of each sheep, looking for cuts and scrapes caused by a certain kind of plant sheep often wandered into in the Middle East. These scratches easily became infected if not tended with oil. So as He puts his flock to bed every night, the Shepherd inspects the faces and anoints with oil any wound, small or large, so that the wounds would heal and to comfort them.

I’m sure those wounds hurt. If I was a sheep with a thorn in my muzzle, I wouldn’t really take too kindly to someone messing with it, causing more pain, even inspecting my face for damage. I might struggle. I might resent the balm. And in doing so, the encounter with my Shepherd would be strained.

But, if I entered my Shepherd’s embrace willingly and with the utmost trust… like a child… He could anoint my wounds, heal me, comfort me, protect me, show me that yes, indeed, He loves me… perfectly.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14

(photos by


LynnRush said...

NO way do I want to go back to childhood...but I see your point here.

THAT part of childhood, sure.

Great post, Lori.

KM Wilsher said...

This is important:
But also, we are to behave like innocents, displaying faith, trusting without reservation, loving without measure or doubt, forgiving easily.
Something I have to work on.

But also:
Every night He goes over my hurts and wounds? Anoints my head with oil?
What a great ritual for me, to go through that imagery nightly :0)