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  • Robert Mann: Autumn flowers - the journey forward to innocence in Christ

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  • GateHouse News ServiceSo many people have a longing for the wonder and freedom of childhood. Something as simple as a bare tree against a gray autumn sky can fill a child’s mind with music, mystery and expectation. The thin white eyebrow over a blue jay’s eye becomes a treasure to store in the imagination. The heart is quick to race at what is and what is to come.
    An adult can stare at the same winter tree only to be filled with anxiety about what tomorrow may bring. In fact, simply being still in one place can hold the risk of the mind being filled with unsettling thoughts of lack of contentment and the relentless pace of time. Our emotions are better served getting back to the tasks at hand.
    Some embark on a mission to return to childhood and seize the lost joy and innocence. The results of these pursuits range from disappointment to the absurd. When a 50-year-old adult is determined to act like a teenager again, the pants literally don’t fit. Likewise, a married couple determined to pursue adventure over children find themselves pained by an emptiness at mid-life. Childhood simply cannot be relived, as it consists of a complex and time-centric series of events. But then again ... it can.
    Scripture is full of references to our status as children of an ever-faithful Father. The combination of power, security and tenderness represents a refuge that no human parent could ever provide. The Lord will carry us like a child on his shoulders (Deuteronomy 1:31 NIV) and give us shelter and strength in the shadow of his wings (Psalms 17:8 NIV). Christ implores us to become children in order to enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:3 NIV).
    Our desires for wonder, beauty and lightness in our step do not indicate regression but are part of God’s divine plan for our lives, rooted in the one true reality. Surrendering to and fearing the Lord removes the weight and finality of life’s distractions, though they are not always painless. Is this journey to a second youth misguided optimism? Given the dirt and compromises of our lives, the proposition is quite a leap. There is a reason scripture emphasizes that we are separated from our sins as far as the east is from the west (Psalms 103:12 NIV). It is only by grace that the great leap is possible.
    There is strong distinction between accepting childhood in Christ and trying to relive our earthly childhood; it is the difference between function and dysfunction. Following the forward path, what seems so far away in modern culture is brought close by God’s transforming grace. The autumn flowers just might be the most beautiful.
    Robert Mann is managing editor of eChristianNews.com and can be contacted at rmann@echristiannews.com.
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