Children and Adults: Co-Pilgrims in this Life with God

We are born with open space, with the hunger to be in relationship with God. Right from the womb we search the eyes around us for connection. We cry to be held. We reach out to know that we are loved. And we are, right from the beginning. Even the fact that we came to be is proof enough that God desires for us to know him, to be loved and cared for by him. Children have a natural openness to God; Jesus said the kingdom of heaven belongs to them. Children arrive slippery and screaming and ready for relationship. Their interior space has not been filled with disappointment, pain, habitual sin, or any of the other junk that clogs up our ability to seek God with a pure heart. They are seeking and connecting. The toddler who sings in her bed before she goes to sleep and as soon as she wakes up is echoing the song sung to her. The boy who gently caresses the hurt family pet is echoing the gentle caresses of God. C. S. Lewis said we know God exists because we know that there is good in the world.

The Grand Essentials…Old School

For the early Christians the Wisdom literature, particularly Proverbs, was the launching point for their consideration of human flourishing. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10 NIV) is the persistent theme of Proverbs. This wisdom is necessary for the practical realization of human flourishing, that is, a life lived well. Furthermore, it is a wisdom that originates in God and makes God known to us. The following selections illustrate early Christian reflections on wisdom.

Jerome (c. 347–420), the fourth-century Bible scholar best known as the translator of the Latin Vulgate, writes:

Fully Alive in Christ

It is about 2 a.m. when my feet hit the soft grass under the bedroom window of my ranch style home. I walk down the silent street of the small Wisconsin village, walking “crosslots” through empty backyards, under the goalposts of the high school football field until I arrive at the door of a church. On Sundays I come here in my “good clothes,” but tonight I am a thirteen-year-old barefoot supplicant in cutoff s and a T-shirt. I find in the moonlit darkness of the sanctuary what I long for—a transcendent Presence that I somehow misplaced during the daylight hours of home and high school, and even church. I don’t stay long, but for a few blessed moments I feel the peace that passes understanding holding my mind and heart; I sense a love that is deeper than my knowing. I feel fully alive in those moments. Then I leave, retrace my steps, and noiselessly climb through the window and back into my own bed.

Flourishing in a Life of Sacred Rhythm

Years ago, I sat in a staff meeting at a church I was serving; the purpose of the meeting was to talk about how we could attract more people to join the church. At one point someone counted the requirements for church membership that were already in place and made the startling discovery that somewhere between five and nine time commitments per week were required of those who wanted to become church members! Outwardly, I tried to be supportive of the purpose for the meeting, but on the inside I was screaming, Who would want to sign up for this?  I was already becoming aware of CFS (Christian fatigue syndrome) in my own life and couldn’t imagine willingly inflicting it on someone else.

God, Where Are You? What Are You Doing?

The practices that had been so dear to her, so life giving, were dry as dust. Those specials places of connection with God, those times of receiving consolation from God were gone—dried up—and she was left wondering in a barren wasteland, lost and alone. She felt abandoned, forsaken of God, even in danger of losing her faith. As she stood before me, her despair was palpable. Here I was, a seminary student, her adult Sunday School teacher, but I did not know what to say.

Avoiding the Trapdoor in Transformation

Although it was nine years ago, that Sunday morning is still vividly etched in my memory. A few years earlier my heart had been captivated by the life-giving understanding that God’s intention was that the lives of Jesus’ followers were to be deeply transformed into the likeness of Jesus himself. Since I had been a Christian for decades and seminary trained as well, you might wonder why it took so long for me to come to this realization. But that’s a story for another time. Having discovered the Father’s intention of transformation, I had given myself over to that process with great intentionality. I read books on the topic of spiritual formation and listened to gifted teachers whose lives evidenced that deep transformation was indeed possible. I began practicing a variety of spiritual disciplines, some familiar and some new, all with the desire to see the hidden recesses of my life touched and transformed by the love and character of Christ. After the process was under way in my own life, my Sunday sermons began to focus on topics related to spiritual formation. What could be more inviting than these amazing realities? People’s hearts were stirred, hope was ignited, everything was moving along nicely—until that one Sunday morning.


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