When I was a teen, I would often babysit for a couple in my neighborhood; the family had the sweetest little baby girl. If she started fussing while I was watching her, I would enlist my tried and true trick for getting her to settle down—we would go outside. All I had to do was take a few steps out onto the sunny deck with her and she would instantly quiet down and sit contentedly on my lap, absorbing the world around her with wide-eyed wonder.
God’s glorious world was made for our enjoyment, our wonder. Little children get that. The other night, I spent some time with my neighbor’s little one, picking up pinecones and filling them in a bucket, then dumping them out again. I grew tired of the game after only a few minutes, my mind on cooking dinner and laundry. But my little friend kept squealing with delight, inspecting every cone and showing each one to me proudly before she put them in her little pail, only to dump them out and do it all over again.
Why is it that when we grow up, we lose our child-like wonder and sense of fun? At Christianity Today, N.D. Wilson tackles this topic in his post, Lighten Up Christians: God Loves a Good Time. He writes:
We say we want to be like God, and we feel we mean it. But we don't. Not to be harsh, but if we did really mean it, we would be having a lot more fun than we are. We aim for safety and cultural respectability instead of following our stated first principles: that we are made in God's image and should strive to imitate him…
We say that we would like to be more like God. So be more thrilled with moonlight. And babies. And what makes them. And holding on to one lover until you've both been aged to wine, ready to pour. Holiness is nothing like a building code. Holiness is 80-year-old hands crafting an apple pie for others, again. It is aspen trees in a backlit breeze. It is fire on the mountain.
Speak your joy. Mean it. Sing it. Do it. Push it down into your bones. Let it overflow your banks and flood the lives of others.
At his right hand, there are pleasures forevermore. When we are truly like him, the same will be said of us.
Crosswalk contributor David Burchett echoes these thoughts, writing, “[C]learly Jesus knew how to party in the good sense of the word. He knew how to interact warmly with others and connect with those around Him. And He knew where to find those who needed the touch of forgiveness the most… Laughter is a gift from God. Don’t be afraid to enjoy it.”
We grow up and lose our child-like wonder. We experience heartache, loss, injustice, death—we know the pain life can bring. Even without those more painful things, the mundane of life—like cooking dinner, doing laundry—can still kill our joy and sense of fun. But our task as Christians is not to despair or grow numb. Our task is to enjoy, to wonder, to appreciate and glorify God in all we do and see in the world around us.
“To know the world and still love it? There is not a more difficult task that human beings face” (Steve Garber). Will you, knowing what you know about the world, still pursue the joy and love to be found in it? Will you still enjoy God’s gifts of laughter and fun? Will you fight injustice, mourn death, battle heartache—without becoming jaded or hard-hearted? Will you cling to the goodness and hope that Jesus has won for us? He has called you “out of darkness into his glorious light.” It is easier to be jaded than joyful. Choose joy.
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
- Wendell Berry, Peace of the Wild Things