Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Starting Point


That one word best describes how most children face life. Maybe there is a good reason for them to be fearless. Despite the brevity of days they’ve had on earth, just think of the changes they have already gone through.

Think of the journey a baby makes to enter the world. From the warmth of the mother’s womb to the sterile glove of a doctor’s hand on his backside to being separated from his mother for the first time in nine months, the shock of coming into the world surely must toughen up a child quickly. Fortunately, we can’t remember what those first few moments of life this side of the womb was like. I am thankful God put a limit on our memory, not allowing us to remember those first days of life.

Fearless also describes how a child learns to walk. Within months of birth a child moves from laying helpless in his crib to scooting on the floor to crawling to mustering up enough courage to let go of the chair or coffee table to stand on his own two feet. Within days, there is no stopping the child as he wanders from room to room, exploring his world, testing his newfound independence, proud of his accomplishment, and fearlessly expanding his view of the world.

Think of a child entering school for the first time. Whether or not a child has been in daycare or was able to stay home with mom during those early years, the first day of school can be traumatic for even the bravest of children. New friends must be made. A new environment must be discovered. A new teacher guides his path. He has a new bus to ride, a new carpool routine, a new schedule during the day—all of those things challenge a child to rise above and level of comfort he has previously known.

Think of a teenager learning to drive. Wow! Talk about an adjustment. A child goes from riding in the car to controlling it. The child goes from knowing the parent is responsible for transportation to the teenager being responsible for the people riding in the car. When my daughter started driving I was surprised how little she knew about how to get to where she needed to be. For the years prior to her driving, she relied upon her parents to make sure she arrived safely and on time—now she was in charge and had to figure out how to move from point A to point B and back to point A again. That was a challenge for her to say the least.

Think of a graduating senior moving into the real world. Whether the child goes off to college, to work, or to military service, leaving the comforts of home and mom’s (or dad’s) cooking can be challenging and difficult. Everything that young adult has known for the first 18 years of life is now rearranged, changed, and challenged. Is there any wonder that some young adults simply can’t handle the pressure and return to the comfort of their parents’ home? I often call these returning young adults “boomerang kids”—you keep throwing them out and they keeping coming back. These young adults often return to what they know best and where they feel safe.

Fearless. Let’s go back to that word again. Maybe children are fearless because of their lack of worldly experience. Maybe they are fearless because they have an innate trust in God. Maybe children trust their parents far more than they should. I don’t know for sure what it is, but I have always found that most children are fearless about most things.

Fearless certainly seems to describe young David as he took on Goliath. David heard the unceasing taunts of the giant. He saw the fear in the eyes of the Israelites. He saw a king that was incapable of doing anything. Young David refused to stand and watch and do nothing. He gathered a few stones and his trusted slingshot and off he went to slay a giant. Fearless.

Fearless seems to best describe the young children who climbed into Jesus’ lap as He taught life lessons to those around Him. Read the gospel accounts of that again and notice how the children were completely unafraid to climb into the lap of the Son of God. What other word, besides fearless, describes children who were not intimated or frightened by God’s only Son? They simply climbed into His lap and listened to His parables. Fearless.

I remember going as a child to the beach, pool, or even swimming hole near our house. As soon as I saw the water, I started running at full speed to jump in. I didn’t check the water’s temperature or cleanliness, or even depth (probably not very wise, especially on how deep the water was). I just ran with all my might to jump in, creating the biggest splashing of water that I could possibly make.

Now, compare that attitude of fearlessness with how many of us act as adults. Would you be honest with me? When was the last time you ran full-throttle and jumped into a pool or into the water at the beach? Been a while? A long while? I know it has for me. I can’t even remember the last time I did that.

As we get older, we tend to be more careful, cautious, if you will. Here’s what we do as adults. When we come to the edge of the water, we tend to stick one toe in the water first, to gauge whether or not the water is too cold. We tend to check the cleanliness of the water. We certainly want to check the depth of the water before we dive in.

As an adult just about everything has to be perfect before we inch our way into the water and get acclimated to the water.

And as we do that, all the while, we are moving further and further away from being fearless.

While I would never advocate reckless abandon regarding water, I think you see my point about how our level of fear often increases through life. If we aren’t careful, we not only grow up, we also grow prematurely old.

Do you understand what I am saying?

We go from being fearless to being fearful. We become afraid to interview for a new job—we might not get it. We become afraid to marry—it might not work out. We become afraid to go to the doctor—she might find an inoperable tumor or something. We become afraid to try new things, travel to new places, eat new foods, experience new adventures—the list could go on and on. If we aren’t careful, our life is guarded by fear—not us controlling that fear.

That, my friends, is a tragedy that doesn’t need to happen. As a believer in Jesus Christ, we must learn to move from living in uncertainty and fear to living in joy and peace.

Can that be done? Can that be a reality in your life or my life? Yes. Yes it can! Being joyful and happy and secure is possible if Jesus Christ is the Lord and Savior of our life.

That’s the beginning point for all of us—our relationship with Jesus.

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