Becoming As Little Children

Imagine yourself standing at the foot of a giant redwood tree, looking up at a massive trunk that extends hundreds of feet into the sky.  Or in a boat in the middle of the ocean, with no land in sight and water stretching out endlessly in every direction.  Or lying on the ground, looking up at a night sky filled with countless stars.  Or standing on a ledge overlooking the vastness of the Grand Canyon.  How do these images make you feel?  Small?  Filled with amazement and awe? Like a child?

In Matthew 19:14, Jesus says, “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”  He says that those who will enter into the kingdom of heaven must become as little children, and one of the most obvious attributes of children is that they are small.  The eyes of the three-foot-tall toddler open wide in wonder at the huge world around them, the same world that we see and pass by without a second glance.  This humility, this living in awe, is part of the “becoming as little children” that Jesus speaks of.  Just as children are so easily filled with joy and wonder, we too should stand in awe of God’s creation, awe that leads us to grateful worship and humble trust in our Creator.  When we humble ourselves before God’s greatness, we should be filled with the joy and gratitude of a child, eyes wide in wonder of our awesome God.

Tomorrow is the Lord’s Day.  After a whole week of seeing God’s goodness, we should be filled with this childlike joy as we enter His house.  Yet so often we find ourselves going through the motions of worship without joy in our hearts, without actually thinking about what He has done for us or being filled with gratitude.  Unlike the child who is humble, happy, and content even in the little things, we take God’s gifts for granted and come into His house out of habit or even grudgingly.

Why are children filled with joy so easily, while we find it so difficult to live a thankful, joyful life?  It’s true that children, being small, are more easily filled amazement.  But another reason children are so easily made content is that they aren’t filled with expectations.  We have a sense of expectation and often see God’s gifts as something that we deserve or are entitled to, but children do not have this sense of entitlement and receive everything as a surprise.

A few weeks ago in church, we sang Psalter #204, which contains the words, “O it is good that I may still to God draw nigh, as oft before.”  How often do we take it for granted that we are able to draw nigh unto God?  He is the almighty, all-powerful God, yet He has given us the right to come to Him both individually and together with His church.  What an amazing gift, yet one that we so often take for granted.

As you prepare to enter God’s house tomorrow, think upon all of God’s amazing works.  Look at His creation.  Meditate on the ways you have seen Him at work in your life.  Count the blessings He has placed in your life this week, the gifts that you may have taken for granted.  And tomorrow, come into His house with the joy and trust of a child, humbled by His love and goodness.

Amy Kaiser

 

 

 

Excitement for the Lord’s House

He can’t contain himself – as it gets closer and closer, that’s all he can talk about. Friends exchange knowing glances when the occasion comes up, knowing that just the mention of it will cause a huge smile to break out on his face, and his words will trip over themselves as he gushes about what he expects and looks forward to on that day. What is this man looking forward to? It must be a pretty big event – it seems to be taking up his whole mind. Maybe his wedding, or the vacation he’s been planning for months? No, what this man is looking forward to is worshipping His God on the Sabbath.

This man is the psalmist in Psalm 84 – he starts out his song by shouting out “How amiable are thy tabernacles, O LORD of hosts!” His joy in coming to the Lord’s house can’t wait another minute – it’s been on his mind and he must express it right away. He loves to be there, loves to “behold the beauty of the LORD” (Psalm 27:4).

In fact, this man loves the house of the Lord so much, the once or twice weekly visit is not enough for him. Psalm 42 compares this longing to that of a deer for water. A deer’s most innate instinct is to find water – it can’t survive without it. This man knows that what water is to a deer, fellowship with the Lord is to him. Personal devotions during the week satisfy him somewhat, but by Saturday, he finds himself weak, needing replenishment from the preaching on Sunday.

I think we can all confess our emotions and thoughts on Saturday night and Sunday morning aren’t always quite in line with the man described here. Saturdays are full of housework and chores, piles of homework, and then maybe hanging out with our friends at night. We head to bed and fall asleep as soon as we hit the pillow. Sunday morning comes and we wake up as late as we can while still getting to church on time and looking decent. We don’t wake up with smiles on our face that today is the day we can worship our Lord in His house. But how can we make our attitudes line up with the psalmist’s?

A great place to start is consciousness. It’s easy to go through our normal Sunday activities without thinking – after all, most of us have been doing the same types of things each Sunday since we were children. It’s a comfortable routine. But I encourage you to look at it with new eyes. When we go to our respective churches each Sunday, it’s more than just a routine – we are entering in to the very house of God. The almighty, omnipotent God, Creator of heaven and earth, the One who planned your whole life before time began, allows us into His house, the place in which He dwells. This isn’t any grudging invitation either – He chose each of us specifically to come to His house. If it was up to us, we would be running the opposite way. But by His grace, we can confess with the psalmist of Psalm 65, “Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts.”

So tonight, when you set your alarm for the morning – probably earlier than you would like – think about where exactly you’re going tomorrow. Meditate on the words of Psalm 84. Mark the bulwarks of your church as the psalmist does in Psalm 48. Ask God to give you the same joy and longing expressed in so many Psalms, overflowing joy and thankfulness to be able to worship at His house.

Kenzie Kuiper

The Secret to Happiness

The world is always looking for the secret to happiness. People search and spend their whole lives on the mission for something that will give them lasting, long term happiness. They look to money, sex, popularity and many other things for this sense of completion.  Christians have already known the secret though. We were given the answer long ago, and the Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 1 Q&A 2 tells us simply and beautifully.

Q: How many things are necessary for thee to know, that thou, enjoying this comfort (see Q&A 1), mayest live and die happily?

A: Three. The first, how great my sins and miseries are; the second, how I may be delivered from all my sins and miseries; the third, how I shall express my gratitude to God for such deliverance.

This question and answer at first glance seems a little odd. The secret to happiness revolves around us contemplating our sin and misery? Once you try it, though, you’ll find it’s very true. Recognizing these three things can and will drastically change your outlook on life, put your priorities back in order, and yes, give you lasting happiness by the grace of God.

The first part of the question on its own certainly will not give happiness. When we think of our sins and miseries we feel humbled, embarrassed, maybe even depressed. However, looking our sin square in the face and seeing it for the atrocity that it is, that is what makes this secret to happiness work. Salvation would not seem so miraculous if we didn’t recognize the truth of total depravity. We have to see the immense, vile load of our sin before the next portions of the answer can bring us with joy to the cross.

The second part is where we start to feel some true joy. Those horrible sins we just talked about are given a pardon! We see in this part of the answer that there is hope for us! We won’t be left alone to wallow in our misery. We lift our bowed heads and see the cross and start to feel the burden of sin fall from our shoulders. However, we can’t stop here.

The third part takes this power of joy and sets it loose, releases the happiness in terms of thanksgiving. It always appears to me as if the second portion of the answer created so much joy, we can’t keep it bottled inside any longer. We burst into anthems of thanksgiving, joy, and praise for our salvation. We have to recognize what we should do as a result of our salvation. Our church attendance, prayers, and all-around Christian lifestyles aren’t in order to gain salvation; they’re the result of intense thankfulness for our salvation.

Now, just because we know the secret to lasting happiness doesn’t mean it’s truly a secret. Going out into the world and telling others about this fountain of joy is part of what we may do to express our gratitude to God. So, this Lord’s Day (and all week) I encourage us all to not go through the motions of church going, Bible reading, praying or anything else, but to do each of these things with a conscious knowledge that we are expressing gratitude to God for an incredible, and awe-inspiring work of salvation in our lives. Then, when this life brings you down this week, and you need to rediscover your happiness, read over this question and answer, and you’ll surely find true joy.

Suzie Kuiper