A few weeks ago, Jeana and I were on a flight from Dallas to San Francisco. Headed to a conference.
While on the flight, we did what we are wont to do—we watched a movie. Making the best of our time, you see.
Anyway, this movie proved to actually be a good use of our time, for the Holy Spirit spoke powerfully through it. For real.
The movie was, no joke, Mary Poppins Returns. Yes, it was.
Now, I hadn’t seen Mary Poppins the first time, but I quickly caught the gist. People have a problem, nanny shows up, magic ensues, problem solved. Pretty simple, yet ingenious solution.
I actually enjoyed the little thing.
But it was somewhere in the middle that the Holy Spirit burst through the story and seized my heart with a relentless grip. I think Nanny had just said something like, “The adults have all grown up around here and lost their childish wonder.” That’s not a direct quote, but it was something like that. The children get the magic stuff pretty quick, but the adults have lost their wonder. So they struggle to believe.
And it hit me. Hard. The Holy Spirit said, “Do you remember that Jesus said that we must be like children to enter the kingdom? Childlikeness is essential to faith.” Here’s what Jesus said:
“Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” (Mark 10:15)
Childlike faith. I never really thought of it in terms of “wonder.” I paused the movie and leaned back in my seat for a bit. Jeana raised an eyebrow at the interruption, and I gushed what the Holy Spirit was saying to me:
“Babe, it just hit me how important childlike wonder is to walking by faith. Life makes us so cynical. We lose our spiritual imagination and become prisoners of a lesser realty, the reality of earth as we see it around us. But the reality of heaven is higher, also all around us, and can only be accessed by a wild, fresh imagination that refuses to accept reality as it appears to the naked eye.”
“What grownups call clear-headed realism is just unbelief in another guise. When our first reaction to the promises of God, to the possibility of a miracle, to the demonstration of supernatural power, is to cock our head to one side, squiggle up our eyebrows, purse the lips, shake the head slowly, and evaluate the rationality of God’s word in the clear light of human reason, we have lost our wonder!”
“When children hear a promise, they immediately jump up and down in wild circles, celebrating as if it is already done. When adults hear a promise, they lean back and judge it. ‘Hmmmm,’ they say. ‘Seems unlikely. Better not get your hopes up. There must be a reasonable explanation for that testimony other than a miracle really happened. Don’t get too worked up now,’ they say.”
This, and much more, I said with childish excitability to my captive bride. I mean, where could she go at 36,000 feet?
But it’s true. Adults often shoot the promises of God down cold.
Why do they do that? Why do adults act like total sticks-in-the-mud when the promises of God are going off like fireworks all around them?
One word: disappointment.
Life happens. Answers are delayed. Prayers bounce back from the ceiling. And, rather than work hard to stay fresh and faithful, adults start developing theologies and theories to explain why miracles don’t happen anymore. Or why they don’t happen for me. Disappointment grows like mold on cellar walls until it slowly takes over the soul. Most Christians will still give lip-service to the idea that God is all-powerful, that miracles still happen, but they will start to live their life—can we really call it life?—as if God is a million miles away and miracles never happen.
That’s the problem.
We could keep going here, but we need to finish the movie. Nanny awaits.
Yet Mary Poppins’ powerful message still resonates for you today: never lose your wonder! Ask the Holy Spirit to renew your childlike faith. Practice being childlike when it comes to believing the promises of God. Laugh out loud in unreserved delight when God says he will heal you, bless you, meet your needs, save your children. Hop, skip and jump. Run around in wild circles doing crazy airplane noises. Act like a kid again. Let hope erupt in you like a geyser. Go off like a bomb. Enter the kingdom like a child.
Stop being such an adult. Stop it this instant.