I have to stand on my toes to light the candles in Chapel. Otherwise, I’m too short.
These tip-toe moments make me feel like a child, as I carefully lift up the protective glass and raise the taper to touch the candle-wick (all whilst making sure that the sleeves of my College gown don’t catch fire and the wax doesn’t drip on the choir’s music). I’m like a child relishing the responsibility of being given a task to do, amazed by my Father God’s invitation to perform these small services in his presence. I’m invited to light the candles in the presence of the one who made the stars.
I stand on my toes and watch the wick catch and ignite, turning to flickering as I move to light the next candle. I have the wonder of a child: I get to do this; I am invited to be here; I am given the gift of seeing the illumination of the house of God.
This Cambridge term has opened my eyes to the joy of such simple, childlike faith not only in lighting candles but in many other moments too. I’ve seen it in God’s immense kindness as he’s strengthened me when I’ve been tired. When I have nothing left to give, God gives me the rest I need. He shows me when to take a break and encourages me to persevere when there’s no time to stop. He’s like a mum listening carefully to the tiredness of her child, sending them to bed when they need it and waking them up when they’re ready.
I’ve seen the joy of this childlike faith in singing songs at church, when God has released all of us to sing loud and in freedom. An amazing sound overflows as we lose ourselves in being with him and knowing him. It’s like a child lost in a moment of playing with their dad. They are amazed at his wealth of knowledge and they say simply and truly: ‘wow dad, you’re perfect at this. I love you.’
I’ve seen this joy in prayer by myself, too. If you’ve spent any time with me this term there’s a good chance that you’ll have heard me (overexcitedly) speak about ‘The Jesus Storybook Bible’, a Bible adaptation for kids written by Sally Lloyd-Jones. Running from Genesis through to Revelation this book transforms Bible stories and their deep theology into the language of children, showing how each one of them points to the person of Jesus and the incredible love of God. Each morning I’ve read a story from this Bible – and every single day I’ve heard Jesus speak about who he is and how much he cares. God’s been showing me how to wonder and trust in the Bible with the heart of a child (and I’ve even used the Storybook Bible in a Greek supervision. Children’s books will get me through finals, right?!).
Finally, I’ve seen this joy come to life in the midst of trying to answer that big question of what to do post-graduation. I take such encouragement in knowing that God is my Father and I’m invited to be his child and trust, to wonder at his love and follow his voice where he’s calling me. To follow with joy and with the seriousness that childlike faith (paradoxically?) is growing in me.
Be encouraged if you are also facing big questions and big days. Sometimes God leads us into the wilderness time of wrestling deeply with our faith – and sometimes he calls us to know him with deep simplicity. He can call us to know him just by lighting the Chapel candles, sleeping when we need to, singing loud songs in freedom, and reading picture books in the morning.
Ponder where God’s calling you now, and have a listen to this song, Bethel’s ‘Wonder’. This just captures it all, with such joy!