This is my Father’s world …
In the on-line video series What Lives Inside (four episodes, 10 to 12 minutes each) Colin Hanks plays Taylor Delaney, the son of beloved puppeteer Pops Delaney whose creations and television show have delighted generations of children. The first episode starts with the news of Pops’ passing, then pans to Taylor in his corporate office receiving condolences from co-workers:
Taylor and his long-time friend drive to Taylor’s mother’s home, and the friend tries to talk about Pops and what Taylor must be feeling. Taylor’s having none of it. It’s clear that son and father were not on the best of terms, and Taylor comes across as a petulant and resentful child who had to watch the world love his father while not getting the love he felt entitled to as the man’s own flesh and blood.
Taylor’s perceptions do not necessarily reflect reality.
Through fantasy and reality mixing together, Taylor discovers much about his relationship with his father and about himself. The creations Pops gave the world come to life for Taylor, guiding him and confronting him and showing him what his real world is like because of the fantasy world his father created. Yet their world is being destroyed by one of those very creations, presumably because Pops is no longer alive to sustain them. Taylor takes on a quest he doesn’t fully understand, and it’s all about saving this world by finding “the boy”.
Chester – a huge, furry, playful, thoughtful creature – helps Taylor for a bit, and then has to move on to help others. As he leaves he says, “If you do see the boy, can you tell him I miss him?” Chester’s question leads us to realize something about this mysterious boy that Taylor does not yet suspect. In the last episode, Taylor comes across a child drawing pictures and calling out to his father to come see what he’s made.
Taylor sees the child’s face and says, “It’s me.”
Taylor – a grown man with a career of his own – acted childishly, and it was only by confronting himself as a child that he could grow up and learn what it means to be childlike instead.
What does he do with this realization? You’ll have to watch the videos.
Childish ≠ Childlike
The Bible tells us not to be childish. The most familiar passage is this one on maturity:
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. (1 Corinthians 13:11.)
You can read the Bible from cover to cover and find repeated instances where you want to tell one of the characters, “Oh, grow up!” (King Saul comes to mind.) And there is a lot of advice on behaving responsibly as well. (Try the Book of Proverbs on for size.)
But we are also urged to embrace the attributes of a child, starting with birth:
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” (John 3:3.)
and continuing through toddlerhood:
At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.” (Matthew 11:25-26.)
Jesus made it clear that we are to exercise our faith in a childlike way:
People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them. (Mark 10:13-16.)
Jesus was indignant at those who thought they were acting so grown up, and blessed the children as the model of what real faith looks like. In fact, God prizes the praise of his children:
But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.
“Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.
“Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, ‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?” (Matthew 21:15-16.)
This time it was the ones who thought themselves most mature who were indignant, and Jesus again pointed out it was the children who were actually behaving properly.
If you belong to Jesus, you are a child of God. Do you act as a child with God? Have you said “It’s me”, as Taylor did in the world his father created?
This is your Father’s world.