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FIRST-PERSON: Reclaiming your childlike joy

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CATOOSA, Okla. (BP) – Several times in Scripture we see Jesus use children as an example of what the kingdom of heaven is like. I love these examples because it reminds me there are no grown-ups in heaven.

To be fair, I don’t know what age we will be in the next life. We could look 15 or 50, but the point I think Jesus often illustrates is that there is a certain childlike trust and innocence that are trademarks of His people.

I think this means that heaven will be more like Peter Pan in Neverland than a business person in an office cubical. If heaven is like a playground then hell is likely a tiny cubical with poor lighting, no windows and an annoying coworker who constantly steals your stapler.

My desire is to figure out how to begin to reclaim the childlike joy that will be ours in the future. There are a few basic biblical principles that I think we can apply to add a little bit more Peter Pan to our lives.

The first thing that we need to learn in order to be more childlike is how to deposit our stress and worries in the right place. You will always carry some amount of stress in your life, but the question should be what do you do with that stress? When my kids have a toy that breaks, they bring it to me. We have a saying in our house: “If Dad can’t fix it, take it to Poppy (my dad); if Poppy can’t fix it, take it to Papa Wayne (my wife’s grandpa); if Papa Wayne can’t fix it, then it’s broken.”

My kids deposit their stress and worry at the feet of their father, knowing that he will do whatever he can to fix the situation. Stress doesn’t belong on your shoulders alone. We are not designed to carry it quietly. It’s not brave to be quiet about your fears and worries; it’s toxic to your soul. We must learn to deposit our fears at the feet of Jesus.

Second, we must learn how to play again. Playing is all my kids care about. They can play because they feel safe and free. To them, the world is one big playground. The cracks in the driveway that stress me out are something fun for them to jump over.

We both see the same thing, but we view them differently. I think about the cost of repair; they think about how they can have fun with whatever is in front of them. I think we forget that Jesus is fun. Jesus loves to create, loves to converse and heaven will be full of play.

Make sure your day includes some kind of playtime. This can be a hobby or something as simple as putting together a puzzle with a friend. If all you think about is work, the stock market or politics, you will quickly lose focus of what is really important. The Bible tells us that the joy of the Lord is our strength, but I see lots of joyless Christians these days.

Maturity isn’t about getting rid of a playful attitude; it’s learning to play in a way that brings those around you joy. When we trust God for our provision, when we allow ourselves to drop our cares at His feet, we become free to play again, and we capture a glimpse of what kingdom living will look like.

Caleb Moore is teaching pastor of First Baptist Church of Catoosa, Okla.