When I was a child, I had an active and vivid imagination. I remember people would tease me that my favorite words in all the world were, Let’s pretend . . . . And it was true. I loved to pretend. I loved to allow my imagination to run wild. I wanted to feel each second. I wanted to live each moment; wrapped in adventure and enthralled by creative exploration.
Nothing was off limits to me. A small rise of earth was a towering mountain. A small trickle of water was a mighty, raging river. I created people and worlds and things. I never ran out of things to imagine. I never grew bored with it.
But, alas, little Jackie Paper had to grow up one day. Or did he?
The apostle Paul argued,
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. (1 Cor. 13.11)
There’s a lot that could be said here expositionally. Paul clearly sets up the dichotomy between childhood and adulthood. It is interesting there is no mention of an “in-between” age of rebellion and sowing of wild oats. Adolescence is a modern invention, something of which Paul knew nothing.
I concur with Paul’s teaching here, as it applies to the context.
Yet, there is something to be said for that childlike fascination that continues to reside within us long after childhood has passed us by. We get glimpses of it from time to time, don’t we?
I know there are certain smells in the air, a certain way the sunlight lays across the lawn that whisks me back, far away, to a time when I was a child. It happens with no conscious effort on my part. One moment, I’m alive and well in the present; the next, I’m running around with cousins and friends playing army or cowboys or ninjas.
I’m not speaking of pure nostalgia here, though nostalgia has its place. What I experience, and I’m sure you do as well, is that rekindling of something old, something primordial within me. A lust and hunger for wonder. A way of looking at the world with eyes that see its newness and its beauty and can revel in its amazing qualities. A mind that is innocent enough to think of play and sport and fun.
A heart young and beating with life, with the excitement of a friend coming over for the afternoon. Lungs filled with fresh air, exhaling briskly as I run and jump. Legs that never seem to grow tired. And a face that never seemed to tire of a good, wholesome smile.
These are the days of youth. One has said that youth is wasted on the young. I tend to agree with this. In fact, I find I agree with this more and more as I grow older. Any correlation there I wonder?!
We adults must not become so grown up and dignified that we forget that sense of wonder. We must hold tenaciously to that ability to appreciate the spectacular, even in ordinary things. Life has a way of robbing us of these most human qualities. Sadly, many times it seems, we become less human as we age.
Youth may be wasted on the young, but I doubt humanity is.
So as adults, let us play. Let us allow ourselves to be captivated. Let us explore and hope for adventure. Adventure need not be a million miles away, it may be waiting at your own front door. As Bilbo wisely advised, when you open the door and take the first step, you never know where it will take you.
I think God is one who loves a heart that can be merry at play. A heart that is still captivated by the beauty of what he has created. A mind that still allows itself to be transcended by what it sees and perceives around it.
We, dear people, are not the be-all and end-all. I often times like to picture God, in fellowship in the Trinity, laughing. A big, wide smile on his face. One who takes the time to enjoy what is worth enjoying.
Well, I guess I need to go now . . . I hear ol’ Puff giving off his mighty roar!