Weakness and Wonder: How to Worship Like a Child

Weakness and Wonder

“Rachel, look! A DUCK!” I heard six-year-old Sawyer call out in a giddy voice. Strangers nearby likely assumed Sawyer had never seen a duck before, though it was actually one of many he had seen that day.

As a nanny, I have watched countless adults smile knowingly at the two children I care for, as if to imply that they understand all children. Sometimes, their glances carry a sense of condescension; they view these children as naïve and unaware of how life really is. It’s as if they’re saying, “They sure are cute, but how little they know.” Ironically, I have learned more from these “naïve” kids than I could teach them in four months as their nanny.

Jesus tells us that childlikeness is a prerequisite for drawing near to God: “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3–4).

This Sunday, notice the children around you at church for more than their bright smiles and tiny outfits. See their authenticity, their imitation, and their sense of wonder, and ask God to teach you how to worship him like a child.

Without Walls

Adults are skilled wall builders. Difficult morning at home? Mask your stress with a smile. Fight with a friend on the way to church? Suppress the hurt before walking through the doors.

Sometimes, a family’s morning shows most clearly on their children’s faces. Most children have not developed the ability to build walls. They wear their emotions on their sleeves, and if there is any uncertainty about how they are feeling, they will likely tell you outright if asked. They are authentic.

How many times have I approached the throne of grace with protective walls built around my heart? More times than I know. Corporate worship is a time for authentic vulnerability before God and others. We must come as we are, not fearing judgmental glances from others in the pew, but looking together to our gracious Savior. To Jesus, our walls are paper thin anyway: “And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13).

As our walls come down with repentance, we are vulnerable and dependent, like crying infants unashamedly relying on their mother. No longer resting on our self-sufficiency, we cling to an all-sufficient God, knowing that apart from him, we can do nothing (John 15:5).

Little Followers

A friend of mine grew up watching his father work long hours at the church he attended. He was responsible for the upkeep of the building, and as a child, my friend did not understand that it was a blue-collar job. Untainted by the world’s definition of success, he saw his father as he was — a man with great integrity and a servant’s heart. He wanted to have the same job when he grew up.

We must ask for a childlike understanding of our heavenly Father. The glittering temptations of this world often hinder our ability to see him as he is. When we see sons and daughters looking up to their dads this Sunday morning, their admiration should remind us that God made us to know and imitate him.

We must be like children, because we are children. We must look to our strong Father as children fixated on becoming just like him when we grow up. Ephesians 5:1 calls us to “Be imitators of God, as beloved children.” He will tenderly and patiently teach us his ways (Psalm 25:4–5).

A Sense of Wonder

Nothing lights up a baby’s eyes more than when they land on Mommy or Daddy. In the same way, nothing should captivate my gaze more than my Father; he must fill me with wonder more than anything else.

As we grow up and see screens in every direction, our gaze of wonder is often replaced with a dull glaze. Distracted by illusions, we who were once wonder-eyed children lose the ability to view the world with a sense of awe.

Corporate worship is a weekly reminder to behold Christ with fresh, undistracted eyes — to keep our vision of him clear and bright. This is exactly what the apostle Paul says we need. He writes, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

We need God to remove the veils from our faces that prevent us from seeing his glory — and thereby prevent us from being transformed. When we hear glorious truths heralded from the pulpit on Sunday, may we see Christ, and like a child beholding something truly wonderful, may our hearts light up as we take in God’s beauty.

This week, may the children in your church remind you that being small can be extremely great. Like our Lord Jesus, let’s invite children to draw near, and in their nearness, let’s remember what it takes to truly be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Worshiping with a Broken Heart

Worshiping with a Broken Heart

I looked across the table at my boyfriend and replayed his words in my mind. “I just don’t enjoy spending time with you.”

I never knew a heart could break so suddenly, so rudely — in only one sentence. I was desperately grasping for anything to help soften the sharpness of those eight words. I could only muster three, “Take me home.” As we drove, my thoughts were as blurry as the trees going by. How can a three-year relationship end in three minutes?

The term “broken heart” is so widely used in our society that it often sounds romantic. In those moments, I learned just how terribly unromantic it is — the kind of tearing, ripping brokenness that demands your full attention, the kind of pain that won’t let up.

A broken heart might be a woman who gets the call from her doctor that she has miscarried. It’s the child who learns that his father has cancer. It’s broken relationships, debilitating depression, dreams dying and crumbling in our hands.

I walked into church the day after my heart broke. Broken, aching hearts fill the pews in each of our churches every Sunday. I walked into church the day after my heart broke. Although surrounded by community, the pain still felt intensely personal. “The heart knows its own bitterness” (Proverbs 14:10). The deep ache can feel as isolating as a prison cell. The enemy wants nothing more than to lock believers in that cell of pain, and keep us trapped in isolation. But God wants the opposite. Here are three things to remember when you are tempted to stay home on Sunday morning with a broken heart.

Broken Hearts Are Open Hearts

There are many sorts of broken hearts, and Christ is good at healing them all. —Charles Spurgeon

Imagine your heart is failing and you require a very risky open-heart surgery. At the hospital, there are several doctors who claim to be proficient at this surgery, but only one has a spotless record — nothing has ever gone wrong with his procedures. Everything he does is perfect.

Would you then choose a doctor with lesser experience, or a poorer record? Not if you value your life.

God is the only Physician who can fully heal a broken heart, and he has never failed in his ability to heal. Sarai, David, and Hosea all suffered broken hearts for different reasons — a barren womb, a shameful trail of sin, unrequited love — and God healed them all. A broken heart is an open heart, and an open heart is vulnerable. In this time of vulnerability, let him be your refuge. Let him fill you with healing through the singing, praying, and teaching of your church family.

Pain Is Personal, Healing Is Corporate

Have you ever had a close friend going through a great deal of pain, and they didn’t tell you? It’s painful when you finally learn about it. It’s painful for at least two reasons: 1) It hurts you that they are in pain, and 2) it hurts that you were not trusted to carry their burdens alongside of them.

As believers, we are called to carry each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). No one would argue that one man can lift more than ten men lifting together. So why do we often ignore the hands extended to help us carry our burdens, and try to bear the weight on our own? We may always bear the heaviest portion, but encouragement and support from brothers and sisters will significantly lighten the load. Battle hurt with heartfelt singing, loneliness with community, and discouragement with the ministry of God’s word.

Surround yourself with God’s people, and you will see that healing does take a village — and that the village is stronger for it. We must combat resounding pain with resolute worship to the Father, alongside brothers and sisters who can pray with us and for us.

Worship Creates Perspective

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in his wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace.

Though suffering is never a small thing, God is always greater. Worship refocuses our minds on God’s greatness, and puts our pain in its rightful place — under the reign of an already victorious Father.

As strange as it may feel in the moment, lift your hands in praise and remember that the victory has been won. Remember that the God who holds your life in the palm of his capable hand is leading the victory march. “He will not leave you or forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).

Standing at the top of the mountain of adoration, we are suddenly aware of our smallness. And it’s not offensive to us at all. We find joy in knowing that Christ is glorious beyond our imaginations and gloriously in control of all things, including every inch or second of our heartache. Nothing can touch you except that which has been carefully filtered through his loving fingers.

Let heartfelt praise remind you of his great love and absolute sovereignty, and let these reminders bring healing to your broken heart. Worship is a balm for even the deepest of wounds.