Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 24, 2008
Bear a torch to light a frightened child's path to God's heart
Our Young Church
By ROY PETITFILS
Das a bahh bahh lady!” My two-year-old Max shouts as he shakes his finger at my wife’s (a former seamstress) dress form bust that she keeps in his closet. He thinks she’s a headless lady.
“Dah lady care me daddy! Turn duh big light awwwn Daddy — she care me me.”
I do as requested because I remember when I was afraid of the dark — the things that go bump in the night, or the monsters that lurked in my closet. They were all just waiting to “get me” if I wasn’t careful or if I didn’t have my mommy with me. Most often my stuffed Winnie the Pooh was forced to protect me.
Today I don’t have my mommy with me and stuffed animals have given way to stuffed pork chops. And while I’m not afraid of the boogey man, there are things that I’m still afraid of. My fears have become more sophisticated, but they’re still there.
I am afraid of what God will do to me. I don’t mean that I’m scared that he’s gonna send me straight to burn in hell. I fear that he’ll somehow change me, change who I am, what I’m about. That somehow if I get too close, I’ll no longer be who I am.
And I guess this is why I tend to “get” where kids are coming from.
Kids are afraid. They’re afraid of the world changing rapidly around them, they’re afraid of us and most of all they’re afraid of God.
Some see God as a big Ogre whose sole desire is to wipe out their internal hard drive and turn them into a “holy roller.” Some see him as a detached taskmaster who could never be pleased. And some just don’t see him.
If those were my images of God, I wouldn’t go to church either. I would stay far, far away from that God and anyone having anything to do with that God.
And, for a long time, I did.
More and more young people are experiencing a crevasse between them and God. Theirs is a practical agnosticism, often mistakenly referred to as atheism.
Most kids who call themselves “atheists” or say “I don’t believe in God.” are really kids who are scared — afraid of being hurt, afraid of being manipulated and afraid of being left to fend for themselves.
If we really want to be heard by this generation of young people, then we must also at least try to understand their fears, hurts and reasons for wanting to keep their distance.
They need for us to model for them and experience the gentle reality of God. Not a manipulative Lord who is quick to find fault, but one who loves them passionately and wants more than anything to be involved in their lives — one who fulfills them and helps them become more of whom he created them to be.
Mother Teresa would often remark, “How can you expect to see God in bread when you cannot see him in the people around you?”
Reveal God’s heart
We are called to be God’s skin. Revealing for young people the fullness of God’s heart is a privilege.
God gives us the courage to meet kids in their fears, in their hurts and offer to them his healing love. When our children are afraid of the darkness of God, we have the honour of bearing the torches that light their path into the depths of God’s heart.
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