Jesus Wants to Make You Young Again
Today I’d like to talk to you about the little boy or the little girl inside of each one of us.
There are a number of different things I’ve been reading lately that have all kind of intersected on this point, and it seemed important to talk about.
One important factor is that that a few years ago, my wife and I had counseling with Caring for the Heart. As I’ve mentioned before, Caring for the Heart is a Christian Counseling method and they have this ability to really go deep into your heart and connect a couple and help them talk heart to heart. And one of the key phrases that they use is something like this:
“Is there a little boy inside of you that was hurt when that was said,” or “Is there a little girl inside of you that would just like to say something right now?” There’s real power in asking about the small child within — because we all have a small child within us. And in our truer moments, that child speaks to us.
I was also reminded of this because I was recently reading Jordan Peterson’s book, 12 Rules For Life. In it, he talked about speaking to your inner child and being kind to your inner child. And I just thought: that’s interesting.
I’ve also just finished reading The Great Divorce, written by CS Lewis. It’s such a great book. I won’t try and summarize it because it’s also a crazy book. But so worth the read! He spoke a lot about growing old and the child within that is in communion with God.
Finally, I am reminded of my grandmother, who I think is 97 now, but almost every time I meet her she says, “You know, I’m just a little girl inside…and I just love my Jesus.” That’s just her, that’s Suzanna Meyer.
And so for all of these reasons, the idea of the inner child have been rolling around in my mind. That is what I would like to speak about.
But first, there are two questions that I think are kind of central to ask.
1. What Do I Need Religion For Anyways?
First of all, what good could Christianity possibly do for me? What do I need Christianity for? What do I need religion for? Let’s just say somebody is asking this question — they’re reasonably healthy, reasonably wealthy, they have friends around them, they’re not particularly lonely, they have purpose and direction in their life…what can Christianity add that I don’t currently have? People say, “I don’t need religion; religion is a crutch for the weak. I’m not weak. What do I need religion for?”
2. Just What Does Jesus Want to Do to me Anyways?
The second question is, just what is it that Jesus wants to do with me anyways? What’s the bottom line? Because it’s not entirely clear what the bottom line is in Christianity.
For other religions, perhaps, it seems a little bit more clear. In Buddhism, you cut off attachment and then eventually you arrive at Nirvana and you enter into nothingness. For Islam, you do the right things so that you can enter into heaven. But what is it with Christianity? There’s something about being reborn but what does that mean exactly?
There’s a promise about, “I will take out your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh,” (Ezekiel 36:25-27). What does that mean exactly?
What exactly does Jesus want to do to me?
What I want to propose to you is that Jesus wants to do nothing to you other than to fulfill the deepest dream of your heart.
I believe that the dream — the very deepest dream — the dream so deep that we only touch on it in the rarest of our inner thoughts and stories…the warmest aching of a waking soul is to be young again.
Oh, To Be Young Again!
Some of our best stories are about going on a quest to search for the elixir of youth — and our ancestors seriously searched for this! They would go to the deepest darkest place, many gave their lives in the search. This is the story of the Holy Grail looking for eternal youth and vitality so that I will never die. So that they could live on.
In some ways, this is what science is continuing to do in this search for eternal youth and vitality; a quest to never die and to always stay young. But it’s not just not dying, it’s not just staying young, it’s not just being healthy and beautiful and having energy: we want to be young inside. We want to be free from the symptoms of aging: the busyness, the complexity, the sophistication, the inability to be pleased as we once were. We long to return to those days when something as simple as a new red ball would just fill all of our horizons with joy — pure and abundant! When a good meal could just satisfy us. Or a mother’s embrace could just fill us with love and joy and peace, and our whole heart was full to the brim.
How is it that we have lost that simple ability to be pleased with the good things in life? Or were we ever really pleased by them?
And here’s there’s an interesting contradiction. When we have little kids, our main objective in life is to help them to grow up. What we mean by that is: stop being so selfish, stop being so petty, learn to forgive, let go of a grudge, don’t be so competitive…grow up! Sometimes in our less sanctified moments, we might even say that to our kids, “Grow up already. Stop being such a kid!” But when we’re adults, we say, “I wish I could be more like a child!” So when was it exactly we had what we’re looking for? We didn’t have it when we were kids and we don’t have it when we’re adults.
What is it that keeps evading us? Did we ever have it? Will we? Can we?
There’s another interesting paradox.
We can say that a person is being “inhumane.” What does that even mean? How can you say to a human that they’re being inhumane? Isn’t that a contradiction? What is this standard of humanity against which we’re measuring ourselves, if it is not ourselves? You can’t say to a lion that killed a giraffe, you’re being ‘unlion-like’. Whatever a lion does is what a lion does but for humans, we say ‘we’re being inhumane’ because there’s something that we know we can’t grasp it.
It is like the morning dew, shining like jewels in the early morning sun: but when grasped in the hand it is gone. What is it? When we were kids, we grasped at it. As adults, we pine for it. When somebody does something wrong, we say, “You’ve missed it.” What is this youth, this innocence, this beauty that we long for?
I believe that this is exactly what Jesus wants to give us.
Jesus wants to make us young again.
I think a fairly simplistic view of religion is to say, “How can I get into heaven? How do I do the things, check off the boxes and do all the religious stuff so that I can go to the good place when I die?” I think a deeper understanding of religion is, “how do I get heaven into me?” Because if I went to a place where I live forever in my current state of insecurity, pride, fear, jealousy, hatred, and animosity and with all that getting worse and getting colder and getting older every day, that wouldn’t be Heaven. In fact, that might be something like Hell.
Sure, I would like to live forever. But not like this. What I really want is to be new again on the inside: to get my hands on what it is I’ve been craving all my life. This is, in fact, how GK Chesterton has described God. With reference to children, he says,
Because children have abounding vitality, they are fierce in spirit and free. Therefore, they want things always repeated and unchanged. They always say do it again and the grown-up person does it again and again until he is nearly dead. For grownup people are not strong enough to exalt in monotony, but perhaps God is strong enough to exalt in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, ‘do it again’ to the sun and every evening, ‘do it again’ to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike. It may be that God makes every daisy separately but has never got tired of making them. It may be that he has the eternal appetite of infancy. For we have sinned and grown old and our father is younger than we.
…but our father wishes to share with us.
Jesus said, “In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” (John 14:20)
What must we do to be saved?
Jesus answered Nicodemus, “You must be born again.” (John 3:7)
How can we be born again?
“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household,” Paul said to the Philippian jailer (Acts 16:31).
But you might say, “Well, okay, I’ve done that, I still feel old. How do I get what God is offering?”
The answer is that, the life of following Jesus is a life marching uphill. It’s called sanctification, the process of becoming holy. This is not a quest towards Jesus. It is not a quest toward salvation. This is a quest with Jesus, which began with salvation. It’s not like going on a quest to eventually get married. It’s like a life starting with marriage and now we’re living it out, which is why marriage is continually a metaphor that Jesus uses for the church.
On this journey, Jesus has left us a trail of breadcrumbs, so to speak, which we often refer to as the Lord’s Prayer. I’d like us to just look briefly at this section of Scripture. There is, of course, so much richness here, but I want to draw at least four things from the Lord’s Prayer as we continue on this journey of walking uphill towards holiness and towards this place of innocence where the simplicity and childlikeness of God enter into our hearts.
1. Our Father’s World
”Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread.”
You know, most of us — and I would include myself in this, until last year when we started studying The Lord’s Prayer in our home Bible study group — tend to pray something like this: “give us this day our daily bread. Amen.”
What focusing on the Lord’s Prayer has helped me to realize is that Jesus taught his disciples to pray, “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” and then, “Give us this day our daily bread.” There are other things too! What Jesus wants us to understand here is that — yes! Kids ask their parents for stuff. As a parent, I can testify! Kids ask their parents for stuff — all. the. time! And parents are happy to give their children stuff.
But this asking and receiving takes place in the context of family.
I think that’s what God wants us to understand is that once we are saved and as we’re part of the divine family, and as we are walking up the hill towards sanctification, we are no longer outsiders looking in. We’re not like citizens trying to petition our government for something with picket signs and trying to make noise and trying to, “hey, help us, listen to us!”…as we did a few weeks ago (but that is another story).
We’re like a child that has inside access and we know that our heavenly Father hears us, and we fit ourselves inside of that. We fit our requests, our desires, inside of the household. We know that our Father is in charge and we pray that his kingdom will come and His will be done, first and we fit ourselves into that. We pray like a child who is part of a family, under a Father that loves him. That’s how He phrases our prayers. And that is how we get to the place of saying, “give us this day our daily bread.”
It’s a place of calm. It’s a place of surrender. It’s a place of understanding that even though there are hard things in this world, this is our Father’s world. As the old hymn says:
“This is my Father’s world,
And to my listening ears,
All nature sings and round me rings
The music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world,
I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees of skies and seas,
His hand the wonders wrought.
This is my Father’s world,
The birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white,
Declare their Maker’s pray.
This is my Father’s world,
He shines in all that’s fair;
in the rustling grass I hear him pass,
He speaks to me everywhere.
This is my Father’s world,
Oh, let me ne’er forget
That though the world seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world,
The battle is not done.
Jesus who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heaven be one.”
Jesus said, “In this world, you will encounter tribulation, but take heart, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
2. Forgive us Our Trespasses
“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
I noticed that this section is in the middle. Forgiveness is in the middle of the Lord’s Prayer and in Jewish thought, usually, the thing that’s in the middle is the most important. The forgiveness of our sins and our forgiveness of other people’s sins seems to be the most important, most central thing that Jesus had to say. In fact, that’s the only thing that He came back to and recapped if you read it in Matthew.
He came back to you and said, “If you don’t forgive others their sins, your Heavenly Father won’t forgive your sins.” That’s the only thing He came back to, forgiveness. Our sins make us old. Our sins make us jaded. Our sins make us not want to come out and play. We see this with our kids.
“Little Johnny White, why are you sad? Why are you angry? Why aren’t you talking to me? Why are you hiding? What’s going on?” It’s obvious that he did something. If it’s a really young child…they probably filled their diaper! And they feel ashamed and you need to clean it up. If they’re an older child…maybe they soiled their hearts and they need to be led to repentance and forgiveness and reconciliation.
When the child is forgiven, then the smile comes back, the light comes back to their eyes along with joy. And they can come out and play! They can be happy, they can be delighted again with the simple pleasures of life, such as companionship and friendship. For us, James 5:16 says,
“Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed.”
We are sinners, by nature and by choice. Because we sinned, we need to be forgiven for our sins. We can’t just hide in the closet of our hearts and say, “Well, I’m just going to be strong. I’m just going to distract myself with the busyness of life. What really matters, what’s really important, is getting this job done and showing my family a strong face.”
No! Oh, my dear friend no! They need to see you. They need to see your heart. They need you to repent of your sins. They need you to be forgiven; first by God and then as appropriate, by others. Then, they can see the true you, and feel your love.
Psalm 51, is the Psalm that David wrote after he sinned with Bathsheba. He prayed:
“Create in me a clean heart, oh God, and renew a steadfast Spirit within me… Make me to hear joy and gladness; let the bones which you have broken rejoice.”
When we are healed, when we are forgiven, we can rejoice and this is what God wants to bring to us. This is the springtime of the soul that Jesus won for us on the cross. We need to forgive others and this is tied, integrally, to forgiving ourselves or being forgiven for our own sins.
3. Forgiving Others
“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
This reminds me of when I was fairly young. I was in a situation where I just kept crying. A certain person in my life kept bugging and teasing me and I kept crying. This person wasn’t especially mean: they just had a sharp wit and a strong body, and they kept hurting me. This person kept saying, “Why are you so fragile? I’m just trying to be funny. Why are you so fragile? I just bumped you.”
So I prayed about it. As a very young child, I said, “God make me less fragile.”
And sometimes you say “God speaks to you” — and that’s a little bit of a dangerous thing to say because you don’t want to claim something that isn’t true. We hear voices in our head all the time: we have little conversations with ourselves up there, and we work out ideas and we imagine people talking. So it can be a danger to say, “God spoke to me” — perhaps that was just my own imagination. But…sometimes one of those voices seems especially strong, and the words they speak are enduring. And it seems that if 30 years later, when you still remember that thought and it seems to fit with scriptures that maybe — just maybe — that was God speaking to that little boy back then.
When I asked God for his help, I heard him say to me, “I don’t want to make you less fragile.” And I knew that was not a good thing to ask for.
But, God, what am I going to do with this person that keeps bugging me that’s in my life?
So I said, “Okay, God, help me to heal faster.”
And I heard Him say, “That prayer, I will answer.”
Often as young children, we get hurt and we make vows:
“I will never be hurt in that way again.”
“I will never be hurt by an authority figure again.”
”I will never be hurt by a man again.”
“I will never be hurt by a _______ again.”
These are vows that bind our heart, and they make us old!
Jesus wants to help us heal instead, and the secret to healing is forgiveness. Forgiveness looks something like this:
“Jesus, when he said that, that really hurt. It made me feel like an insignificant little bug, trampled on the floor. It made me feel weak, and stupid, and awkward and ugly. It hurt so bad!”
And you just take a moment to let that little boy cry on Jesus’ knees:
“Jesus, I will not make him pay for what he said. I will pay the emotional pain and consequences of his words. Please forgive me for the bitterness I’ve had against that person. I want it to end now. And Jesus, please fill this place with your love and your peace. And may the bones which you have broken, rejoice and may I hear the sound of singing and dancing again.”
When we are forgiven and when we forgive others, then the little boy can wipe his tears, and then go out and play again! He can truly care for others again, and the heart is free. How do you know when you haven’t forgiven?
It can be so hard to forgive! You can say the words a million times, yet still it’s hard to truly forgive from the heart. When we’re not forgiving, there’s this dark fountain of creative vengeance inside of us that just keeps spewing out ways to get revenge. Our mind is continually replaying conversations we could have — where we would win the argument this time! — or scenarios where we could make them hurt, or show them how they hurt us. Sometimes, sometimes, we are able to put a hand over that volcano of vengeance, and have a moment of simmering silence.
And the wife says to the husband, “Why are you so angry?”
And he says, “I’m not angry.”
And he thinks he’s spiritual because for the moment he’s keeping his anger under control — but it’s still there. And she knows it.
And the toxins of bitterness begin to flow through our veins — drawing circles under our eyes, tension in our jaws, and weight to our shoulders.
Unforgiveness makes us old.
But when we forgive, and we just let it go, God brings new light to that place. Suddenly, miraculously, that volcano transforms into a spring of living water, springing up to eternal life (John 4:14) we start having other thoughts like, “I wonder what made that person do that? I bet you that person was in a place of pain when they did that. I bet you somebody else hurt them to make them do that.” Or, “Perhaps, if they acted purely out of evil intent, I just feel sorry for them and I want to pray for them because they’re in a dangerous and a dark place.” When we truly forgive, that little boy or girl inside, can come out and feel nothing but kindness towards the person that has hurt them. It doesn’t mean that they need to go get hurt again but they can truly feel kindness towards that person. They can be free.
It’s a beautiful thing in a family, in a marriage, when a husband and a wife, when children, when friends, can truly walk in friendship to live and laugh and play once again, as innocent children without the anger, and without the bitterness, and without the revenge.
“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
Our children, without exception, have been afraid of something in the closet, something under the bed, something just outside of a partially opened door. As parents, we have tended to say, “It’s not real! Monsters don’t exist. Just go to sleep!”
But what we mean to say is, “I’m here, and I’ll protect you.”
Perhaps what our children are really saying is, “There’s something in the closet or something under the bed,” but I think that that’s their way of saying, “I’m afraid.” The reason that they have fear, is that this is a terrifying world and slowly children come to understand that there are things in this world that could destroy them. There are people in this world that mean them harm and there are even evil spirits out there that wish to cause them harm. This is a scary world and it’s not entirely true that it doesn’t exist.
The monster in the closet doesn’t exist, but there are dangers out there.
But what we as parents can say is, “I’m going to protect you. I’m going to pray for you. I’m going to spread my spiritual protection over you. I’m going to keep you safe so now, you can go to sleep. Not because there are no monsters, but because I am bigger than they are.”
And as we grow up, we can be gripped with fear because we are no longer in our father’s home, we no longer have somebody. Perhaps we are that somebody to some little humans: and when we return to our rooms, we realize just how hollow our own words have been. Can we really protect our children?
But we live in our Father’s world and we can pray with confidence that our Father protects us. Knowing that as He’s promised in Romans, ”He causes all things to work together for our good” (Romans 8:28) and as He promised in Jeremiah that, “He knows the plans that He has for us; plans to prosper us and give us a future and a hope,” (Jeremiah 29:11) and Jesus said, “and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age,” (Matthew 28:20).
And so we can pray:
“Father, keep us from evil and keep us from temptation. Father, I’m not strong. If I’m in the wrong situation, I’ll be tempted to choose myself over others. I’ll be tempted to take something good but at the wrong time, in the wrong way. Father protect me from temptation because I don’t want to have to repent again, I would rather just not sin in the first place. Please protect me from temptation. Don’t leave me into temptation and deliver me from evil. Yes, I can forgive when evil is done to me but please, just avoid the situation in the first place and keep me from evil.”
We know that we live in our Father’s world, we know that our father protects us so what does Jesus want to do to you? He wants to make you young again. How? By learning to rest and to trust and to live in our Father’s world, in our Father’s house. To pray to Him with the spirit of confidence and a spirit of trust. By being forgiven for your sins, so you can come out of the closet, come out of hiding and play. To forgive others for their sins so that we are no longer bitter and have divisions among us and to rest under the Father’s protection.
”Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. May thy kingdom come and thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day, our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil; for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever and ever, Amen.”
This was a transcript of the sermon, “Jesus Wants to Make You Young Again,” preached by Josiah Meyer at St. James Anglican Church, Sunday May 26th, 2019. To watch or listen, see below.
To support this website and podcast, go to www.patreon.com/josiahmeyer