My middle grandchildren started preschool this week. While I’m excited for this milestone, deep down my heart wants to wrap them up and put them on a shelf for safe-keeping. But that’s impossible and it wouldn’t be fair to them (or us or the world, for that fact), if stopping time were actually an option.
There’s just something about their innocence, their childish giggles and freely-given embraces that I want to keep around forever. They face each new day fully alive, anticipating new experiences looking at all things as if it was brand new and I don’t want that to change in them.
In Madeleine L’Engle’s devotional, Glimpses of Grace, she quotes a passage from Meet the Austins on family comforts:
“Johnny said, ‘Why do people have to … grow up and get married, and everybody grow away from each other? I wish we could just go on being exactly the way we are!’
“‘But we can’t,’ Mother said. ‘We can’t stop on the road of Time. We have to keep on going. And growing up is all part of it, the exciting and wonderful business of being alive…being alive is a gift, the most wonderful and exciting gift in the world.'”
Aliveness. It’s a gift. Living fully. It’s a promise from Jesus: “My purpose is to give life in all its fullness” (John 10:10b TLB).
Do we teach our children this? Do we live fully alive as though life were a gift? Or, do we look at each new day as a chore too challenging to face that we wish it away? What would it look like if we lived fully alive and taught our children to do the same? How is that even accomplished?
If we refer back to John 10:1-18, Jesus says we are to live as sheep. Enter life through the Gate (a relationship with Jesus) into the sheepfold (of other Believers in Jesus) and find the Good Shepherd (Jesus). Through the Gate we find fertile, green pastures (abundant life) and our Good Shepherd who knows us. We come to know Him and His voice. We trust Him and follow Him wherever He leads because He is a good shepherd that not only protects us, but lays down his life for us.
When God breathed life into each of us, we were not meant to be preserved on a shelf for others to gaze upon our beauty. Rather, we were meant to grow up, to mature, to unfold into the person God intended us to be from the beginning. As we live in relationship with Jesus, grow and mature and follow where He leads us, we discover the fullest life we can experience on earth. It’s that sweet spot where who we are, what our passion intersects with God’s plan and purpose for our lives.
If we keep everything the same, whether in our personal lives or that of our children’s, we thwart the purposes of God. Like Mother said above, “We can’t stop on the road of Time. We have to keep on going.”
As we allow ourselves to draw closer to Jesus, our Good Shepherd, and learn to live the fullest life possible through Him, we perpetuate life’s abundant circle throughout the generations. By our example of living close to and through the power of Jesus, we show the next generation that they matter in the Kingdom of God, that they have a Kingdom purpose.
Will life be all frosting and cupcakes? Not at all. But, through Christ, all things work for good. As much as we want to keep everything the same, to freeze time and protect our children’s innocence, we can not, should not do that. It is time to let God do the leading and watch His purposes unfold through us, through our children to the Kingdom of God on earth. This is what makes living a full and most exciting, living gift.