By Michael Gallup
I have been thinking a lot lately about who I was as a child and why I fell such an affinity for that person but also great distance. I was certainly a dreamer with a wonder-filled view of the world. My mom tells me that as a three-year old I stated that the universe was a picture that God painted. I loved to slouch down in the back seat of the car and watch as the moon “chased” us home. I, like so many other kids, would lie on the ground and observe the shapes of the clouds as they shape-shifted from dragons to motorcycles. I was solely devoted to dinosaurs, determined to be a paleontologist when I grew up. I would pretend to be a sub-mariner superhero who belonged to the super-group the “Wave Warriors” when I played in the ocean and I could stare into the mysterious moss-draped live oaks that lined the tidewaters of South Carolina for hours.
These are things that I find nearly impossible to do anymore and that reality hurts. It hurts in a way I can only imagine death hurts like. Something crucial to who I am, crucial to me actually being alive is at best in a coma. I look into these sources of wonder and I wonder why they no longer inspire.
Perhaps its just Peter Pan nostalgia, that the great crime of my life is that I actually grew-up, but growing up is not the problem, its the dying that is the crime. There are times when I am still surprised but often the tears found there are in mourning of how foreign the sense of awe has become.
Jesus has something interesting to say about all this, that our faith should be like that of a child’s; that our faith could see dragons in the clouds; that our faith could see God closing one eye, sticking out his tongue, holding out his thumb as He determines just the right shade of green for the Milky Way. Yet I find myself feeling like I do in the face of so many of His sayings; I experience a sinking feeling that spits in my face and pronounces that I’m a loser.
Yet that is just where God meets us.
Because childlike faith also means that when we get, as my nephew Caedmon calls them, a ‘big big ouchie’ that a kiss from mom will make it all better.
My inner-child may be dead but my God has a flare for the dramatic and resurrection is His specialty. Before I can have a faith that chases the moon, I need a faith that allows me to run screaming and crying into His arms, demanding cookies, GI Joe band aids, and kool-aid.
And the beauty is that our Father gives good gifts.
I think our sense of wonder as children is a byproduct of our security, we were free to dream because as far as we knew, everything was going to be OK. Yet obviously life has choked this thought to death. We no longer wonder, because it requires a large level of trust.
Because of the scars we bear, we are hesitant to acquire anymore, so we shore our selves up against any kind of surprise and in so doing we toss out the baby with the bath water. But my God has acquired scars so that I could healed of them. We no longer have to fear, we are free to dream, to live. He has died so we must live.
When I was five, I was walking around my yard after a hurricane had downed several trees. As I turned a corner I heard a distinct loud hiss and saw a cotton-mouth snake coiled up, head raised literally inches from me ready to strike. Pure instinct kicked in and I ran faster than I ever have before or since and screamed and cried. Inside my house I found shelter in my dad.
From the safe vantage point of my porch, I watched as my dad chopped the snake in half with a garden hoe. I was sure then that my dad was the strongest and bravest person on earth. I knew it was safe to venture out again because he would be there wielding his weapon to protect me. May we we walk in the mighty shadow of God’s healing, tossing fear to the wind because nothing is too big or too bad for our Dad.
Michael is a student at Denver Seminary. You can read his blog at www.asprigofhope.blogspot.com