"I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to the childlike...."
(Gospel reading from a few days ago)
When you were a child, did you know all of God's secrets? Did you have all the answers to His mysteries? I assume not. Why, then, does Jesus say that God has revealed certain things to the childlike?
The "secret knowledge" that children possess, I believe, is wonder. Children are often characterized as innocent and curious. They do not yet know the power of evil. They have witnessed no true darkness in their short lives. Full of hope and determination, children aspire to be the president or an astronaut when they grow up. When I was six, I wanted to be a Jedi Knight... There is no limit to a child's capabilities. They find joy in the simplest of things, and they have not yet learned to be truly "mean." Children wait eagerly near the chimney every Christmas Eve for Jolly Ol' St. Nick. To children, magic and miracles are not only possible, but likely.
Only when these children grow up do they drift away from such wonder. (Caution: Next sentence advised for ages 10 and up). They see that Santa's cookies go to Dad every year and no longer grab binoculars to search for a sleigh in the sky. The Christmas magic, and most other magic for that matter, starts to disappear.
You have hidden these things from the wise and the learned.
The more we learn, the more we think we know. We gain knowledge... but at the expense of our faith. It is becoming more and more common today to see advances in our knowledge that are at odds with our faith. Everything can be explained by science and logic. We spend less time saying our bedtime prayers and perhaps even begin to question why we pray at all. We give God less and less credit. Instead, we find someone else to take the credit for God's greatness. As we grow up, happiness is measured in GPA's and then in salaries and houses and families and cars and on and on and on. We rid ourselves of childlike goals once we discover that there's no such thing as a Jedi Knight and that the odds of being the President or an astronaut are slim. Never again will we be worry-free children. We have seen the darkness, a darkness that cannot be unseen. It is a part of us now, like a scar. We no longer live in a bubble, a place in which our concerns are trivial and ephemeral. The knowledge, the world---it has all corrupted us. Gone are the black and white rules of our childhood. Our moral compass now swings back in forth in a world of grey. Temptations confront us everywhere we turn. New opportunities to sin are presented to us, and our will to resist them is more easily swayed by the pressure of the world. We no longer face the issue of Should I have one more cookie than mom said I could. Instead, we face the issues that change our lives.
We cannot escape this world unscathed. It will take its toll on our morals. It is impossible to resist every temptation. We are sinners, after all. Each sin, each struggle, leaves a mark.
After all of this I have mentioned, how could there possibly be any benefit from growing up? Well, these opportunities to sin also bring us opportunities to learn from our mistakes. The mistakes we can make are no longer as trivial as they were in childhood. Instead, we are making mistakes that affect the course of our futures. How we react to these mistakes, too, will forever impact our lives.
Yes, we have seen the darkness of this world. BUT...these moments of darkness provide us with an opportunity to strive for the light.
If a worry-free life is all you have every known, you most likely have never learned to fully rely on God. Only when life brings you to the brink do you realize how much you need God's wings. Only when you are damaged do you see how much you need the One who accepts you, scars and all. The world will tear us down. It will cut us and bruise us and threaten to knock us out completely. But when we turn to God in times of sorrow, He heals us. Yes, the scars remain, but there is a point to their presence. They remind us of all we have survived. They remind us of the lessons such struggles have taught us. They are a part of us, but they are not all of us.
We can use these scars to create a lasting relationship with God, a relationship that has endured through thick and thin, in sickness and in health. We then will be brought to our knees not because mommy says we must, but because we know we must if we want to persevere through the trials of the world.
Yes, we grow away from childlike wonder. We grow up. There is nothing we can do to prevent this. It is a shame to see our values corroded over time...so we must fight back. We must keep fighting to maintain our childlike wonder.
We won't be children for the rest of our lives, but we can still strive to possess a child's purity.
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Try to remain childlike and God will reveal Himself to you. "Hold on to what you believe in the light when the darkness has robbed you of all your sight" (Mumford & Sons, Hold on to What You Believe). When the darkness of the world surrounds you, don't rid yourself of your childlike light. When temptation breaks you down, don't give in. Fight to maintain your wonder. And when you cannot help but fail, learn from the scars.
|My faith in Santa was still going strong at age 9.|
I never got an answer from Cookie the Elf.