Recently I’ve been organizing thoughts, people, places and events for a book about life adventures outside the confines of religion. Or something along those lines. The process is lighting up memories of a time when life was rich with wholesome pleasures, charged with the thrill of discovery and viewed through the eyes of youthful innocence. I was raised by loving parents in ranch country eight miles north of the Mexican border that was teeming with wildlife. Riding the range with cowboys and exploring abandoned mines and Indian caves added the adventures that made up for an ideal childhood.
Some time ago I realized that I had a habit of daydreaming about those “good old days.”
A particular sight, sound or smell could trigger a memory that suddenly transported me away from the present chaotic world where greed for money, power and notoriety rules, all pretense of innocence is lost, crime is rampant, etc, etc. Bottom line, I was escaping into sentimental reverie from a world where there seems precious little to be sentimental about.
Of course I never considered the fact that not everything in the world I lived in as a child was loving and benign. On the dirt road to our house I encountered a rabid coyote and was stalked by a mountain lion. Off the road I nearly stepped on rattlesnakes and was threatened by an old coot that would shoot at trespassers. An outlaw across the river from us stole our hay. Later he was involved in a dual over a property line and killed. The winner fled the country to escape the avenging brothers of the deceased. We encountered dishonest missionaries. A preacher called “The Walking Bible” began a ministry south of the border to Mexicans. He ended up sponsoring boxing matches and finally burned his building to collect the insurance. A man with a small ranch below the hill from us got drunk and thought our dog was climbing his tree to get his chickens. He beat the dog so badly we had to put it down. Two of my friends collected dynamite sticks, caps and fuses from a gold mine and were ready to blow up the little red school house we attended until I ratted on them. The teenager down the road…..well, you get the picture.
Anyway, I turned from my escape into the past and am finding more to be excited about in the present than ever before. But the key is looking at life through the eyes of a child.
It came to me that trying to recapture that feeling of joy, adventure and innocence isn’t all bad. In fact, that’s what life would be like even now if we saw things through the eyes of a child of God. We know too much. Dashed expectations and bitter disappointments have made us wary and cynical. Religion has perverted our view of God and weakened our ability to trust. Yet Jesus said that unless we become as little children we’ll not see the kingdom of God.
I was standing outside looking at my surroundings a couple days ago. Puffy white clouds contrasted with the deep blue sky. All around me were green trees, green grass and bright, colorful flowers. I thought, “God made this and likes it. All he does is like this.” He doesn’t worry about what man is doing. He can’t be changed or tarnished. He is. And he is good.
I believe this is a new season for those whose life is hid in Christ. In him all things are made new. Life in him is joyful, adventurous and full of promise. But we can only see it through the eyes of a child.