I haven't had much time to draft in-depth blog posts recently, so I'm pulling something from my drafts :). I wrote this back in August, I believe. Yes, I've decided that I overanalyze stories. Hehe.
I recently saw a play version of Peter Pan. I always liked the story of Peter Pan growing up, both the book and the Disney-fied movie as well, and I still do like it. But this time when I saw the play version (in the tradition of Mary Martin), though I enjoyed it, I also saw it through different eyes. As the lost boys were chanting I'll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up, . . not me!, the cuteness of the song was lost to me. All I could think of right then was verse after verse from the Proverbs about wisdom and old age. Gray hair is a crown of splendor, is it not? Wisdom is found among the aged. And we are commanded to search for wisdom!
I previously mused a bit on the faulty idolization of youth in my post on L.M. Montgomery's The Golden Road. It strikes me as sad that our culture seems to perpetuate childhood as long as possible. Youth has become our idol. I am not talking about making a 7-year-old take on a full time job; I am talking about expecting adult behavior from people before they graduate college! We have 30 year olds who shy away from marriage because they are not ready for "commitment," and because they do not want to be "tied down" by a wife or family. We expect teenagers to act immature, irresponsible, and self-centered, so no wonder they do. Our culture is obsessed with the youthful image. We go to great lengths to look younger and feel younger. We hide our true age. We have mid-life crises when we realize that we're getting old.
But age is a good thing - a crown of splendor! We should look forward to old age and the wisdom we will gain along the way. I'm certainly glad I won't be 22 forever; I wouldn't want to be that immature for my whole life! On a recent trip to the mall I noticed a clothing store called "Forever Twenty-One." I jokingly turned to Mother Dear and lamented the fact that I was no longer that idealistic age. Now that I'm 22, life is just not worth living. *feigned sigh*
I've heard many, many people who think that we're supposed to be childlike, living as innocently as children (that alone is a problematic statement!), that we should learn to be as simple as children, as carefree as children, as trusting as children. Et cetera. Jesus does tell us to have the faith of a little child, but He is not intending for us to live in our teens or childhood perpetually. We are not to eschew knowledge and wisdom in order to keep our "childlike faith."
Jesus is speaking about having a complete trust in Someone who is bigger than us, dependence on Him, and coming to Him even when we cannot fully comprehend His ways. That is the faith of a little child. He is not speaking of being content in our ignorance for life, but taking His word on faith, when we cannot yet completely understand! We come to Him helpless, but then we learn to grow in grace and knowledge, not permanently stunted in growth, stuck in perpetual youth. Youthful ignorance is not a blessing.
Peter Pan leaves us with a mixed lesson, a realization that adulthood is inevitable, but a wish to remain a child forever. I'm not sure how that strikes me. Surely one can grow in wisdom and age without losing all sense of fun and adventure! Who said children have all the fun? And one can also grow in intellect and not "out-grow" his faith; in fact, only the truly wise can embrace the gospel by faith, for the fool hath said in his heart, "There is no God."
When a man has a little bit of knowledge, he turns to atheism. When he learns more, he turns back to God. - Dr. Charles Thaxton
Were I given the choice to becoming my 10-year-old self again, or were I given the option of entering an actual Never-Neverland and remain as I am forever, I would run far away. I look forward to being old, and I pray that with age God guides me in growing in grace and wisdom as well. . . And that wisdom will be worth wrinkles and gray hair!
Death is not an original part of the creation (Romans 5:12, e.g.), and I would extend that concept to submit that neither was physical aging, at least the detrimental kind. Certainly there are disadvantages to wrinkles, gray hair, and creaking joints. My four grandparents, all 79+ and wracked with various ailments, can attest to that. I can't help but wonder: if The Fall had never happened, would the aging of mankind have been like that of the elves of Middle Earth? The elves were immortal and grew wiser and more beautiful with age. Perhaps Tolkien meant to give us a small glimpse into an existence without The Fall. Certainly humans do not grow more beautiful with age, at least not outwardly so! But scripture tells us that we should grow more wise with age, which doesn't jive with a fixation on youth.
Job 12:12 Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?
Job 32:7 Days should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom.
I Corinthians 13:11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.