Reflections on Growing in Faith
The older I get, it seems the less enthused I become about celebrating a New Year. Sure, I still find it to be moderately exciting, but my enthusiasm has certainly diminished from what it once was. As a child, I couldn’t wait to stay up late, drink a liter of Mountain Dew, and watch the ball drop over Times Square. It was always an amazing, almost magical night that I always looked forward to. But these days, I’m much more likely to begrudgingly stay up till midnight—just to say that I did—and then head up to bed.
I sometimes wonder what exactly happens to us as we age. What happens to our sense of excitement, wonder, and astonishment? Sadly, this dynamic also presents itself in the realm of our faith. An author named Mike Yaconelli once wrote a book called Dangerous Wonder. Yaconelli reflects on the Christian faith, asking questions like this:
“What happened to radical Christianity, the un-nice brand of Christianity that turned the world upside down? What happened to the kind of Christians whose hearts were on fire, who had no fear, who spoke the truth no matter what the consequence, who made the world uncomfortable, who were willing to follow Jesus wherever he went? The greatest enemy of Christianity may be people who say they believe in Jesus but who are no longer astonished and amazed.”
As we get older, we lose our sense of amazement and we begin to pursue lives built upon comfort, safety, and security. It’s a natural human desire that I personally struggle with a lot. Even Jesus recognized our lack of child-like faith: “unless you become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 18:3). So, how do we become like children? How do we recover our sense of awe and wonderment in the Christian life?
I would like to suggest two things. And please know that I write these things as much for me as for anyone reading this. The first is to dream. Sadly, as we get older and experience the ebb and flow of life, we forget how to dream. We label things as “unrealistic” or “impractical” forgetting the God who declares that all things are possible. This year, allow yourself to dream about what God wants for your life, for your family, and your community as a whole. The second one is a little tougher: make yourself uncomfortable. When I think about formative experiences in my own faith, they always seem to occur in moments when I step outside my places of comfort, times when I very reluctantly said “Yes” to something. Jesus was constantly inviting his disciples to do this, and he asks the same of us. How might God be calling you to step out of your comfort zone?
May your 2017 be filled with awe and amazement at what God has done.
 Yaconelli, Michael. Dangerous Wonder: The Adventure of Childlike Faith, pg. 24-25.