What wondrous love is this, O my soul?
What wondrous love is this,
that caused the Lord of bliss
to bear the dreadful curse
for my soul?
I read those words above and I hear the haunting simple melody that the songwriter so appropriately coupled them with, and I close my eyes and it occurs to me that I do not understand, do not experience, the wonder. When I think of the cross, when I think of the love, my reaction is so mature, so rehearsed. I can sing about the love and if I try I can maybe conjure up some sort of emotional response but quite simply, I have no wonder whatsoever. I am not physically weak in the knees when I see the sacrifice.
And that is not always a bad thing. I am analytical, I am intellectual, in my approach of Him and He begs to be seen that way.
But in all of my zealousness to make my faith practical and led by my spirit rather than my heart, I have lately been confronted with that ominous question: am I missing the Kingdom?
I read a book this week that really isn't worth recommending. It was based on a flawed premise, I think, of modern-day mass miracles accomplished by one that had the faith of a child. It came off sounding more like a step-by-step guide to megachurch faith-healing despite attempts at reclamation by using (very valid) lines like, "Whoever said that a healed hand was better than a cleansed heart?" But at the conclusion of the book, the most profound part, for me, was the telling of a few scenes where a child had encountered the Kingdom. The book was allegorical and it portrayed a physical, tangible Kingdom, but the overarching theme was that of wonder. The child was overwhelmed when he saw the Kingdom, and had faith that walking into it was as simple as believing.
It was more powerful, more realistic and yet more complicated, than any description I've read before. It seemed genuine; the boy would so much as think of the cross and would not be able to withhold tears.
Do I ever cry over the cross? Am I ever overwhelmed with His love? Do I reduce it to spirituality or anthropomorphic language and miss the simplicity of the love that put Him on the cross for me?
And then, truly, must I be as a child to appreciate it, to have an untainted reaction? I did a word study on faith and children, and I found what I had already suspected--the heart of the Kingdom is truly best represented in the heart of a child.
Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?
And Jesus called a little child unto Him,
and set him in the midst of them,
And said, Verily I say unto you:
Except ye be...come as little children,
ye shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
Whosoever therefore shall humble
himself as a little child, the same is
the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Humble, as a child? Perhaps humble enough to realize that sophistication will never gain me access to the throne.
Verily I say unto you,
Whosoever shall not receive the
Kingdom of God as a little child,
he shall not enter therein.
I Jn. 2:13
I write unto you, little children,
because ye have known the Father.
I look at the words and I wonder--how does one enter the Kingdom as a little child? Does it mean capturing the wonder, does it mean feeling awe when I pray to Him, does it mean visualizing the profound impact I have through those prayers on the course of history? Does it mean believing that He will pull back the windows of Heaven and allow me a peek into eternity, does it mean being recklessly content to mentally run in the wind as a little girl, barefoot, braids flying, laughing, holding my daddy's hand and believing that I could go on that way forever? Is that realistic?
Is the heart of the Kingdom truly bound up in the heart of a child, and, if so, how do I become a child? HOw do I face what J.B. Phillips wrote,
The greatest difference between present-day Christianity
and that of which we read in the New Testament
is that it is to us primarily a performance;
to them it was an experience.
We are apt to reduce the Christian religion to a code or, at best, a rule
of heart and life. Perhaps if we believed what they believed,
we might achieve what they achieved.
There is equal danger in a manufactured simplicity, a conjured sentimentalism, and I am duly warned of it and, I think, in no danger of it. But there is, there must be, also a genuine awe, that bowls you over and leaves you almost giddy and overwhelmed, the way a child might glance at a rainbow and be truly enthralled.
Am I enthralled with God? Not just consumed, not just devoted. An I curious? Do I wake up in the morning unable to contain childish excitement for ways He will reveal Himself to me that day? Do I think of the cross and does it take my breath away?
Do I have wonder?
I know that I don't. I want, long, to feel it. Wonder.
I want to enter the Kingdom with the heart of a child. And so I say, with the hymnwriter, and a full heart,
Little children praise you perfectly;
and so would we;
and so would we.
What wondrous love is this, O my soul?