The world teaches us from a pretty early age that people can let us down. Not only that, in fact—experience teaches us, sadly, that people can let us down, while the world teaches us that they will let us down. As children, we trust implicitly. As adults, we’ve often been hurt too much to try.
People are fallible, it’s true. Historically, we’ve tended to give trust freely, without requiring evidence as to how reliable they’ve proven in the past or affidavits as to their future conduct. But of late, even this small leap of faith has begun to prove too great a step to take. Husbands and wives demand the signing of pre-nuptial agreements in the event of a divorce, as if anticipating separation even before the marriage takes place. Employers vet prospective employees by stalking their profiles on social networking sites to find out what they may have posted in an unguarded moment in the past. We don’t get to know our neighbors anymore—I mean, they’re just an accident of geography. They could be anyone.
But this is the world talking, and the world teaches us not to let go, not to make ourselves vulnerable—to ridicule, to hurt, to shame or to consequence. To be cynical where we might have been hopeful, closed where we could have been open. It teaches us that we cannot be embarrassed or exposed if we are constantly stepping back. After all, who could blame us? We’ve been hurt before.
But this is the world talking, and it’s the world that tells us that discretion is the better part of valor, and that he who fights and runs away lives to fight another day. The world tells us that strategy lies in safety, in never risking too much. Never take that step forward—never volunteer, when you can allow others to do so in your place. We fool ourselves into thinking that there is a value in reserve, and a place in society for the uninvolved. We give in to the fear of letting go, of being caught out, of being laughed at or taken advantage of. We huddle under our umbrellas rather than allow a drop of rain to touch us.
But this is the world talking. As Christians, we may be in the world but we are not of it. If the fear of exposure comes from insecurity as to the true heart of those around us, then in Christ we do not suffer from this affliction. We are secure in the heart of God. Jesus is not about to let us down—on the contrary, He is characterized by a boundless and utterly consistent devotion to us.
Prudence has no place in the Spirit. God doesn’t practice discretion towards us, so why should we towards Him? Everything about God is wholehearted, open and positive. He says to us, “AMEN”, an absolutely perfect expression of total affirmation, and we, as individuals and as a Church, need to have the wherewithal to respond in kind. When we’re called, we need to step forward, because there is no place in the Kingdom for the uninvolved.
We need to be children again in Christ, to reach out eagerly for God’s presence without fear, to trust Him implicitly. Children expect nothing but good things, and don’t protect themselves from the bad. Children can have fun with anything, and are never bored. Children are completely open to new experiences, and never shy away on instinct. Children make friends at the drop of a hat, utterly unselfconscious. Children don’t skulk and hide from the rain; they splash in the puddles and get happily drenched, because they can see the blue sky above the rain, the sun shining above the clouds, and all of it is wonderful to them.
We need to humble ourselves, to remove the negativity that the world teaches us because we’re ready to embrace the Kingdom instead. We need to recognize the child inside us. The child inside us delights in the presence of God, rain or shine. The child inside us believes simply, but expects hugely. Throw away your umbrella and run out into the rain. Go splash in the puddles. The sun’s shining, and the sky is blue. You can see it. Can’t you?