This is an updated blog post published originally in 2018.
In his excellent book, The Mystery of Children, Mike Mason reminds us that “Jesus wants us to become like children because our spirits lived closest to the surface during our childhood. In childhood our hearts are the most transparent, most vulnerable, most malleable.” He goes on to say: “Growing up usually means covering up our spirit more and more with flesh. God wants us to become the person we really are inside, the person we were born to be. Becoming childlike involves peeling away the masks to get back to the real, rosy-cheeked, bright-eyed face beneath.”
When we’re born, God makes us totally dependent on parents or caregivers for the first five years of our lives. Our parents become like gods to us. In a perfect world, this would be a good thing. Now, let us paint a scene that happens when a child reaches five years of age. The child goes up to his mom and dad and asks, “Mommy and Daddy, what is God like?” (Even if this question never gets voiced aloud, the child’s spirit will ask it and draw its own conclusions.) The parents might look at their child and say, “You know, God is a lot like us—he is loving and kind and patient. He is proud of you and is always there when you need him. You are a treasure to him and he loves you no matter what. He likes to spend time with you and he sings a special song over you at night that is just for you. And out of his love, he disciplines you to help you grow.” Imagine the wide-eyed child who hears these words from his mom and dad. Wow! This is great news, almost too good to be true. With parents like these, can you see how easy the transition would be to how that child sees Father God?
It is a daunting responsibility to know that we mirror God to a child. This means we will need to depend on God a lot (and that is what He wants). The biggest influence on how a person sees God often is not their knowledge of the Scriptures. Often it is the representation—or misrepresentation—of God which that person saw mirrored by their parents. We can’t begin to count the number of people who have told us, “I know in my head that God loves me, but I don’t feel it in my heart.” This is the great disconnect that the Father wants to deal with in each one of us. One pastor, after counseling with us for a week, vulnerably shared in his Sunday message that even though he knew God loved him, for the first time he experienced a profound revelation of “Jesus loves me, this I know” deep within his heart. Wow! To say he was transformed by this experience doesn’t do it justice. This is the Father’s really, r-e-a-l-l-y good news in action.Jerry and Denise Basel are the founders of The Father’s Heart Intensive Christian Counseling Ministry, www.fathersheart.com, and authors of the acclaimed book, The Missing Commandment: Loving Yourself (Expanded Edition), www.jerryanddenisebasel.com.