Christian Living

Spiritual Life

The Innocence of Youth

A few years ago, my wife, Debbie, and I hosted a 23-year-old Korean exchange student for an evening. Our visitor had just embarked from Boston en route to Washington, D.C. – on a bicycle!

This nomadic traveler spoke some broken English and was about to travel through the most densely populated area in the United States. Only an iPhone accompanied her as navigator. One look at her told us she was not very strong. In fact, when she arrived at our home, she was walking her bicycle up the hill.

Debbie and I had toured extensively by bicycle, so we understood well the appeal of it. We also knew what it took to cycle long distances. What initially struck us about our guest was ... well ... her lack of preparedness. She had purchased the bicycle online a few days earlier and hadn’t had time to ride it. She wore no padded cycling shorts to prevent saddle sores, no clip-in cycling shoes to add power to the pedals and, astoundingly, had no spare tubes, tools, or pump to fix a flat tire.

Not only were we taken aback by what she lacked, we also couldn’t believe what she carried. Her load contained extraneous gear that would weigh her down and wear her out. For example, strapped on the back of her bicycle was her violin case! What else would you expect a music student to bring on a bicycle trip?

Despite our amazement and concern, the more time we spent with this pioneer, the more we appreciated the other things she brought to her endeavor. Tucked within her free and sweet spirit were plenty of optimism, trust, and resolve. She also toted a dream that one day she would undertake such a trip with her future husband. Most importantly, she brought a willingness to explore without worrying about things she couldn’t control. In short, she had the innocence of youth.

Anyone who has ever felt the tug of God’s call and hopes to find peace must respond with similar attributes of youth. Jesus said as much in this passage:

“Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3 NKJV).

When God calls us to follow Him, He doesn’t ask us to prepare ourselves for the journey first. To the contrary, when He calls, He expects us to drop everything and go (see Matthew 8:18-22). It is easier to embark on the spiritual journey when we exercise the blind trust of a young person. We are free to walk in faith when we disregard the cynicism and distractions that come from a deeper understanding of the world. David said in Psalm 116:6, “The Lord preserves the simple; I was brought low, and He saved me.”

Despite trying to feed our traveler more carbs than she was willing to eat and equip her with the supplies we thought she would need, we came away from our time together encouraged. She brought something to her endeavor that we should have had more of ourselves.

We checked in a few times on our delightful sojourner as she headed south. To our shock, she cycled without incident all the way to Manhattan in the heart of New York City! Her shoulder had become a bit fatigued from the journey, so she decided to end there in deference to her budding career as a virtuoso violinist. Regardless, she had accomplished an incredible feat and taught all of us something important in the process.

Copyright © 2017 Timothy G Bishop and Deborah L Bishop. Used by permission.

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