Childlike Wonder

Posted: April 11, 2011 by clairer in Awe

Have you ever seen young children at the start of a snow storm? Have you seen their excitement and awe as they rush from window to window pointing at one snowflake and then another? Have you seen adults’ reactions to the same snow storm? They will smile, perhaps, at the beauty of the snow, but all the while, they will also be thinking about cancellations, road conditions, and the level of milk in the refrigerator. What happened to that childlike joy…that childlike awe?

In Matthew 18:3, Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” This call to childlikeness can be applied to multiple areas of the Christian walk, but one aspect is wonder.

When children are exploring their world for the first time, everything is new and exciting. Birthdays and holidays are eagerly anticipated, rainbows and snow are special treats, and life is full of new things to discover and experience. But as we mature, these things become more common place. Years, birthdays, and holidays come and go, the miracles in nature (like the change of seasons) become routine, and we go through life expecting little change and wondering about fewer things.

I think a similar thing can happen in our faith as Christians. Like children seeing their first snowstorm, the first time we heard the good news of the gospel, it was awesome and exciting to us. Jesus loves me and died for me — a sinner! That fact seemed so amazing and filled us with joy. But did that truth still seem so amazing one, five, or ten years later? As we became adults in the faith, did our attitudes toward God and the gospel also become apathetic? Has the wonder of our faith become dull? Have we lost that wide-eyed child’s perspective?

I think this is one of the greatest dangers to our faith. It’s far more likely for Christians to become apathetic to the gospel message and cease to take joy in the miracle of their faith than for mature Christians to become atheists and to completely reject or abandon the faith.

But if we are to live passionate lives for Christ, we cannot lose the wonder and awe. It is that wonder and amazement that motivates us to read our Bibles, to worship God, to encourage our fellow believers, to reach out to unbelievers with the gospel. It is apathy that threatens our walk with God. When the gospel becomes old to us, God becomes an afterthought. We read our Bible and attend church out of habit instead of out of love for God and a desire to grow in our knowledge of Him.

Maintaining a childlike wonder doesn’t mean you statically maintain a child’s knowledge of the faith. In fact, a child’s wonder provokes the opposite. A child who wonders at the world around him doesn’t just say, “Hey, that’s a cool rainbow,” and then turns back to the truck in his sandbox. He asks questions about how the rainbow got there. Children are notoriously curious. The wonder provokes questions — a desire to explore and find answers.

Similarly, awe in our faith will not keep us in a childlike state of theology, but will spur us to explore our faith, to ask questions about the bible, and to study the character of God. We will grow, not stay stagnant, through a childlike awe.

But how do we foster or maintain this awe? There are three main ways to do this: reminders, study, and friends. In order to keep the gospel from getting old, we must remind ourselves of its awesomeness on a daily basis. We must daily remind ourselves of who we are, what we deserve, and the awesomeness of the grace that God has shown us. Something I know that has been helpful for me is the Valley of Vision, a collection of puritan prayers. These authors’ awe of God and the gospel is remarkable and an encouragement every time I open the book.

We must also study and explore issues of our faith. A few years ago, I went through a long dry time spiritually. I knew what I believed, but I started to question why I believed it.  So, I started reading; reading about whether or not the Bible was true, how God could be good when there was so much evil in the world, how a loving God could send people to hell, and other theological questions. My awareness and love for God grew astronomically due to that time of study. The more I learned about God, the more amazed I was at His goodness and grace. When we grow in the knowledge of God, the understanding of his holiness, his love, his goodness, and his power will cause us to be more in awe of Him. The study of our faith prompts awe, which in turn prompts us to study more. Study grows faith.

Finally, surround yourself with godly friends who are passionate about their faith. Awe of God is contagious. When you continually spend time with someone who is living in awe of God, His work, and the gospel, you also will begin to have this perspective of God.

“Grown ups” in the faith should be the most awestruck, the most passionate people in the church. They are the ones who have had the most opportunity to study and meditate on the awesomeness of God and the gospel. Excitement over our faith should grow, not dull, the longer we are Christians. Let us never outgrow the wondrousness of our faith.

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Comments
  1. JoRo says:

    It’s so easy to be apathetic, forgetting what an amazing privilege it is to know and follow God. It reminds me of David’s pleas in Psalm 119, for God to give him an ever greater passion for Him truth. “Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.” Only by His grace (expressed — as you’ve mention — through various means) can we cling onto this passion.

  2. I love the way you describe this:

    Good point, and well taken. Childlike faith means that we’re gentle as doves– but that we also seek to be wise as serpents.
    Also, I appreciate how you highlight the role of friends and godly conversations in our growth. I’ve been convicted about whether or not most of my conversations and activities are productive and glorifying to God lately, and I decided to post about it: http://mylittlepencil.tumblr.com/post/4214051864/hot-water
    http://abeautifulordinary.wordpress.com/2011/03/29/better-than-you-found-it/
    Thanks for your insights, Claire! 🙂 May the Lord bless you and keep you today.

  3. hm, it seems like HTML hates me. I meant to cite:
    “Children are notoriously curious. The wonder provokes questions — a desire to explore and find answers.”
    =)

  4. Mark Filiatreau says:

    I really enjoyed this wise and well-written piece, and I agree completely. I did lose lot of child-like during Snowmageddon….But then I had a 60 meter driveway and no snow blower.

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