- Kaylee Ruppel
Camp of Champions had taught me a very valuable lesson about my identity as a child. Working this camp with a variety of kiddos, has forced me to develop a new perspective on what it means to be a child of God—a sweet reminder that even in the midst of trials and growth, we too are children.
Three years of college has made it difficult to remember what it was like to be a child. What a change in perspective. Children are so much fun! Their joy overflows at the simplest things. If they win a 100m race, they are the next Olympic champion and they go absolutely wild. When they see one of their friends, they are being reunited with their long lost soul mate, squealing and shouting during the entire encounter. Even something as simple as a high five makes them smile from ear to ear. I miss getting this excited about everything!
It's not always fun and games with children. They do not listen very often, and when they do it will be for only a split second. Children do not have filters, and sometimes they can be quite rude. Every child, no matter how sweet, is disobedient from time to time. Actions require consequences, discipline is enforced and the children hate every minute of it.
Children are vulnerable, but that is one of the things that is most important about them. They are able to be molded and shaped into who they are meant to become in the future. Influence is huge in the development of a child, as they often will take up characteristics or behaviors from their parents. Children have a desire to learn and they want to have people in their lives to look up to and direct them. They have big dreams, not thinking about any of the logistical ways that they could actually achieve them. They are explorers.
Children long to be loved, always seeking after a hug or even a simple hello. They crave affection and admiration from just about anyone. Despite rules set in place by their parents, there is freedom that comes with being a child. Freedom from stress or from anxiety. Freedom to run and to play and to go on adventures in their own backyards.
Jesus said in Matthew 18:3, "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." This week, the Lord has reminded me what it is like to be a child. The good and the bad and the ugly. We often forget that we are also children. We are called God's children, his precious ones that will live eternally with him in the Kingdom of heaven.
No longer do we get excited about the simplest things. It is all about reaching for the next big thing and not focusing on all of the little victories in life. We begin to take for granted the community around us, forgetting how they have shaped us into the people we are. Joy is always around us, however if we do not seek it out, we may never find it.
Although we are called to walk in obedience to God, we fail. Disobedience is inevitable for every child, always followed with some kind of consequence. This is how God teaches us. Do we always like it? Of course not. Discipline is an action out of love that ultimately leads to growth. God disciplines His children when they disobey, just as we were disciplined as children. It is part of our molding process.
Even though we will always be succumbed to vulnerability, we are often very resistant to change. We get comfortable, not wanting to push our limits. We forget that we need to live in this moldable state, ready to learn and grow as God is always teaching us things and shaping our lives. Our dreams become distant as we focus on what our "needs" are. Our sense of exploration begins to vanish as our value of time changes. We make excuses about not having enough time to do the things that we enjoy, when the reality is that we were created to do exactly that. We have to keep dreaming and exploring, for what fun would life be if we stopped?
As God's children, we have been given the beautiful gift of freedom. Freedom from anxiety and from guilt, from our burdens and our sin. Although this is the truth, we walk around as if we are being slowed down by years and years of guilt and anxiety. We are dragging and looking at life as if we are on a downward slope. We are holding on to our own restricting chains. Why not just let them go?
I forget that I am a child. In this state of my life, it is all about figuring things out and making my next big move to start a new career or buy and apartment. I feel like I have all of these restrictions, but that is a lie. Walking with God is not about limitations, but doing the impossible, of dreaming things that only He can accomplish. Let’s live our lives as children of the King: Vulnerable, clumsy and naive, but adventurous, joyful and free.