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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

“Unless you become as a child…”

by Paul Hettinga

Psalm 121:“I lift my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”

Does my help come from the hills, or the sunset beyond the hills or the waves stretching out to the horizon? What is it about looking off to the hills or up into the sky at night or at a sunset on the beach at Nuevo Vallarta that attracts us? Or more to the point; inspires us, humbles us, puts us into a broader perspective of our place in the world around us. As I lay on the beach last month in Nuevo Vallarta I spent hours gazing at the waves, the ocean, the sky; watched the sea birds gliding, hunting, catching and eating only to repeat their cycle. I stood on the balcony looking off to the mountains to the south, the ocean to the west and watched the Iguana’s bask in the sun in the tree branches across from our deck. There were times when I lost myself in the looking…my mind wandering off into space someplace without much focus on anything and losing all sense of time and place.

I can remember as a child fishing with my dad in the bayous around Grand Haven, Michigan where I had similar experiences. I would lay face down with my head actually hanging over the bow on the deck of our little fishing boat as my dad drove it through the waves on our way to his favorite fishing spot. As I lay there watching the boat cut through the waves I would start seeing through the surface of the waves and instead of seeing the waves, I saw what appeared to me as the bottom of the bayou. It was as if the water disappeared and we were magically flying over the terrain beneath us unsupported by anything. I can still picture this and get that same feeling today as I remember this. I can remember ‘losing myself in that looking’ as well. It was as if all other reality was left behind and I was flying / floating in this imaginary world.

As you read this I hope that you are reminded of similar experiences in which you left the other realities of your life to touch, experience, connect and get lost in…if only for a moment. There is a kind of childlike transcendence in these moments.

Jesus consistently pointed to children to teach us how to understand and experience his new and coming Kingdom. “Unless you become as a child…” is a phrase that most of us know and to some degree understand, yet it is counter intuitive to the culture we live in. We live in a world of intelligence, science, reasoning, hard work, success and power - not exactly the attributes of childlikeness. Our success in this world is too often accomplished only through our devotion to the lifestyle contained within those words. Yet, as people who draw much of our identity from beyond, sometimes we long for more.

Take time to regularly find a beach or a balcony or a lake or the deck off the back of your house or your office window or a park with tree’s and sky, and look off into the nothingness beyond to imagine the God beyond all this - to sense the spirit of God, the creator, the sustainer and the finisher of all. Imagine for a moment that you are captured in that reality that is beyond. Become childlike in these ways for just a moment and you might find yourself leaning into that which is beyond words, beyond accurate description but yet has the power to transform our sometimes ordinary lives into the extraordinary reality that God imagined for us in our mother’s womb.

 Psalm 139:13-16 MSG
"Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; you know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, the days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day." 

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