At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to Him a child, He put him in the midst of them and said, Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 18:1-4 (ESV)
In the new Mary Poppins movie, Mary returns decades after her original visit, to help the Banks siblings through a difficult time in their lives. She works her magic and as she gets ready to depart, the family encounters an old woman selling balloons in the park.
Michael admits that he hasn't held a balloon since he was a child, and the balloon lady tells him that he's forgotten what it's like to be a child. He grabs one, and it sends him floating in the air. The children join in and they all float upward filled with JOY and WONDER.
JOY is an emotion of well-being; happiness or delight. WONDER is a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration; amazement or awe.
After seeing the movie, I couldn’t help but ask myself—am I experiencing JOY and WONDER? A couple of recent memories floated up! I remembered watching Stephen Michael Newby, an accomplished composer, gospel/jazz vocalist and worship leader, bouncing with rhythm at the piano as he played, I am a Friend of God, at Mt. Hermon Christian Conference Center. Oh, what contagious JOY flowed through Him! I remembered seeing the unexpectedly beautiful—masterfully lasered—wood puzzles produced by my friend, Jeff Campbell, while picking up SoulWork workbooks at Vesuvius Press, Inc. Oh, the WONDER of his skill and workmanship!
In this passage, Jesus is saying that we are to set aside our adult questioning mindset and think like children think. This is where JOY and WONDER enter the picture. It is not that we become immature and act childish in the traditional sense, but that we accept things in simplicity. Jesus is saying God values humility—teachableness—receptiveness—and He reminds us that the currency of the kingdom of heaven is childlike faith. Simple, JOY filled, WONDER producing, uncomplicated, uncompromising faith is what moves God's heart to bless His sons and daughters and it is what great people of God possess.
Do I have a humble heart? Am I experiencing childlike JOY and WONDER? These are my new focus words for 2019. I am watching for them! Are you?