childlike, but not children

worthy of chase?

I got interrupted on the corner of South Kellogg and 3rd Street last week, right in the middle of my blazing hot run.

I had my rhythm (desperate run the suns, walk the shades style because of the heat) and my focused race face. My next stop was Bandshell Park for the water fountain, but I was a good 5 minutes from that oasis when a scene unfolded in front of me. I felt like I was in an episode of Early Edition (that show where Gary Hobson receives the paper a day early and then prevents many disastrous headlines as a result). I didn’t get any forewarning, but I saw the scene play out as disaster and then rushed to change the ending and the image hasn’t left me since.

The little boy was racing down South Kellogg on his bike as the wind took a yellow balloon bouncing in front of him. His face was focused and nervous as he threw his bike down at the corner. The balloon bounced it’s way out onto the busy road and my words almost caught in my throat as I ran up beside him, “Wait, here buddy.” An SUV and a sedan sped by in two-way traffic as the boy heeded my warning and then when the coast was clear I nodded, “Go ahead, but hurry.”

He raced out to grab the less-than-inflated yellow balloon from the center line and raced back to get on his bike. I heard a “Whooopeee” as I crossed the road and continued my run.

Giddy anticipation of holding that yellow balloon pulled him racing down the sidewalk on his bike with reckless speed. The determined look in that boy’s eyes would have taken him right out into the middle of South 3rd, his little body completely vulnerable. I couldn’t get that look out of my mind as I raced on thinking about what almost happened. Maybe it didn’t… maybe I imagined how almost it really was, but it rattled me all the same.

It made me think about the tension between Mark 10:15 and Hebrews 6. The former reads, “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And then in Hebrews we read, “Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God…”

We are to be “like a child” but we are to move on from elementary doctrine. We are and we aren’t supposed to be children and this little boy stretched that tension taut in my mind.

The beautiful things about his excitement and wonder are often things adults miss. A half-inflated balloon blowing across a busy road is definitely not worth the chase. In fact, I know very few adults who would get excited about a balloon in the safest of situations. We are not awed by simple things.

But, there is a reason the adult will not run into the street and it goes beyond an awe of simple things. The world has roughened and toughened the adult so his critical eye sees danger and weighs risks. The windblown balloon bouncing across South Third is not worth it.

When the little boy grasped the balloon with both hands and ran back to his bike, his eyebrows looked different. They were no longer furrowed with mission, but instead rounded with success. He got what he set out to get and his loud, “Whoooopeee!” was the beginning of his enjoyment.

We are to be like a child in our delight of good things, in our discovery of good gifts from the Father, in our reveling in restored relationship with the Lord. We are to be reckless even about throwing off the things that hinder and running the race marked out for us (Hebrews 12:1). Shame and fear have no place when we are called children of the Most High. But we are not to be children. We are not to remain ignorant about the world, but wise as serpents (Matthew 10:16). We are to throw all our childlike energies into knowing more about the Lord, finding out what pleases Him and doing those things (Ephesians 5:10). We are to let out our uninhibited “Whooopeeee!” as we relish the joys of living as children of the light (1 Thessalonians 5:5) who have access to the Father of Light.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

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