I noticed something this Fourth of July weekend.

fireworks 2011

I’m not sure if what I noticed came more from the fact that my kids are growing up and not as “excited” about fireworks as they once were or more from the fact that I wasn’t really around any small children during the fireworks that I watched on Saturday and Monday.

What I noticed was the fact that I wasn’t saying “ooohhhh” and “aaaaahhhhhh” like I use to as the fireworks lit up the dark sky about my head.  There was a time when each explosion of color, each unpredictable curly streak of light, and each different kind of sound would leave me and the crowd around me speechless with wonder.

But not this weekend.

It was more of a “here we go again” kind-of experience, and even as it was happening I was thinking “something about this just doesn’t feel right.”

So, I’ve reflected a lot on these feelings and questioned my attitude wondering if it was just me.  I talked with others, though, and I found that I wasn’t alone in my feelings.  There’s just something about the wonder in the eyes of a child that spreads into the hearts of adults, and this year we weren’t surrounded by the “eyes of children,” and we all missed those kind of eyes greatly.

As I thought about this, I thought about my faith, and I remembered this passage:

Matthew 18:2-6 (NIV)

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.   Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.   And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

Jesus loved to have children near Him, and He used them to teach a powerful lesson.  The heart of a child is innocent, forgiving, unconditionally accepting, happy, filled with hope, excitement, and wonder.  Jesus made it very clear that in order for us to get to Heaven we were going to have to possess this same kind of heart.

As I read the first part of Philippians 2 this morning and heard Paul say,

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,  then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others,

I realized that Paul is really saying the same thing in a different way.

Loving Jesus is all about loving others unconditionally, and children are a perfect way to learn that kind of love.

I’ll never forget the day an elderly lady visited my Sunday school class on the very same day that a mom visited with her young son who had Down’s Syndrome.  As we were having the lesson, the little boy walked across the room directly to this elderly lady and started rubbing her wrinkled neck and face and looking into her eyes with such a look of love and wonder.

I believe every woman in that room had tear-filled eyes before the class was over as we watched a child reach out in unconditional love with total abandonment to what others might think of him.

Paul called the church of Philippi to a selfless, tender, compassionate, encouraging, comforting, like-minded, united, humble kind of love.  Jesus is calling us to that same kind of love.

I love children because this kind of love comes naturally to them.  I love children because they get excited when they sing about Jesus’ love!

I also love children because they still find a sense of awe in Fourth of July celebrations.  Next year, I’m surrounding myself with children as I watch fireworks, because they bring out the child inside of me.

And today, I am going to do my best to “become like a child” myself as I look at the world around me, because I want to see it as a world full of people needing unconditional, awe-filled, selfless love. 

child praying

More than that, I’m praying that God ignites within me a childlike awe of His power and love.  I want to have the heart of a child until the day I meet Jesus in Heaven.  I want to be free to run to Him without any fear of what others might think of me.

He died for you and me.

He conquered death for you and me.

He’s coming again for you and me.

Now that should make us all say more than “ooooohhhhh” and “aaaahhhhh!”

Share His love today,