By Joyce Meyer
God is in the restoration business. He wants to restore everything the enemy has stolen from us. In Luke 19:10, Jesus said …the Son of Man came to find and restore the lost. [MSG] And in Psalm 23:3 it says, [God] refreshes and restores my life (my self)… Interestingly, the word restore means to renew and revive; to bring back into existence or to an original state.
One of the things that God desires to restore in each of us is the “lost child” — those childlike qualities we tend to lose as a result of experiencing difficulties while growing up. Each of us starts out in life as a child and as we grow up, we need to protect that child within us. Otherwise, we really can’t enjoy life. It is our childlikeness that enables us to enter and inherit all the blessings Jesus died to give us. What are the qualities of childlikeness? Why are they so important? How are they lost, and how can they be restored?
Satan Is Out to Destroy the Child
All throughout Scripture, we find that Satan is out to destroy the child, and God is out to protect it. Think about when Moses was born. Out of fear that the Israelites were growing too great in number, Pharaoh ordered his people to kill every male Hebrew baby.1 Thousands of years later, Satan worked through King Herod to try and destroy Jesus, the Child of promise. Matthew 2:16 says that Herod ordered every male child in Bethlehem who was two years old and under to be put to death. Thankfully, God had already told Joseph in a dream what Herod was trying to do and had prompted him to go to Egypt until the danger had passed.2
While Satan desires to devour children as soon as they are released from the womb,3 Jesus desires to protect them. In Matthew 19:13,14 it says that when the disciples began to rebuke the people for bringing their children to Jesus, He rebuked the disciples and said, …Leave the children alone! Allow the little ones to come to Me, and do not forbid or restrain or hinder them, for of such [as these] is the kingdom of heaven composed.
Now, I realize these verses are talking specifically about Moses, Jesus and the children that were brought to Jesus. However, I believe there’s a principle here that we can learn. Satan is out to destroy the child, and if he can’t destroy us physically, he’ll try to destroy our childlike nature. When children are born, they are innocent. I think this makes them more in tune with God. Satan hates this and sees children as a threat to his kingdom. He is fearful of what they might become if left alone. So, like a bully, he often attacks children at an early age. Knowing they are virtually powerless to fight back, he tries to damage them before they have a chance to grow up and develop a relationship with God. I believe this is one of the reasons why we see so much child abuse in the world today, not to mention the violence of abortion. Realize that if Satan can steal our childlikeness, he can steal our ability to enjoy life.
The Causes and Effects of Losing Childlikeness
Many people living today have lost all or part of their childhood as a result of Satan’s schemes. For some reason or another, they were forced to grow up too quickly and robbed of a healthy, normal childhood. Consequently, they’re dealing with tremendous emotional problems that are damaging all their relationships. One of the things that happens to steal a person’s childhood includes being forced to go to work at a young age to help provide for the family. There are other times when a parent becomes very sick, and their child ends up having to take care of them, performing duties children would not normally do. Other things that can steal a person’s childhood involve not being permitted to play, as well as experiencing different types of abuse.
Like many others, I was abused in my childhood. Through sexual, verbal, mental and emotional abuse, Satan set out to destroy my life early and prevent me from fulfilling God’s plan for my life. I grew up in a dysfunctional home where alcoholism, violence and incest were common. As a result, I hated being a child. To me, being a child meant being pushed around, taken advantage of and controlled. I was very anxious to grow up. There were many
nights I’d lie in bed thinking about how it would be when I was an adult and nobody could control me. My plan was to grow up and never allow anyone to hurt me ever again. But this meant I couldn’t trust anyone, and I’d have to take care of myself. That’s one of the main reasons why I started working when I was thirteen. Nobody was giving me anything for free, so by working and having my own money, I didn’t have to ask people for things.
Now, I have a worker personality to begin with. So the natural worker in me, plus the abuse I received, turned me into a workaholic.
Work became my best friend, but it also became an idol. It made me feel like I had worth. When I was working and accomplishing things, I felt fulfilled. The problem was, I didn’t know how to relax, and I saw no value in play. I was so out of balance that the only time I could enjoy myself was when ALL of my work was done. And, as most of us know, that never happens — there’s always something else to do.
The abuse I suffered and the ways I chose to deal with it caused me to miss out on most of my childhood. I had no real enjoyment of anything. Occasionally I had fun, but I never knew what real joy was. That’s what happens when we’re forced to grow up too quickly — the joy of living and our God-given childlike qualities are lost. When we experience abuse as well as hardships, our soul — which is our mind, will and emotions — becomes damaged to some degree. As a result, we begin to think and act in ways that are usually out of balance or wrong altogether. We do this in order to protect ourselves from further hurt and pain. A major step to seeing our childlike qualities restored is to understand what they are and why they’re important.
The Characteristics of a Child and Their Importance
Over and over, God’s Word describes and refers to believers as children, and I believe it’s important for us to understand why. Jesus said in Matthew 18:3 that…unless you repent (change, turn about) and become like little children [trusting, lowly, loving, forgiving], you can never enter the kingdom of heaven [at all]. What does it mean to become like a child? It means to take on a free, lighthearted nature — to become loving, forgiving, trusting and carefree.
It’s a child’s nature to trust unless he has experienced something that teaches him otherwise. It’s true that they often ask a lot of questions and want to know how things work, but they don’t get bogged down with figuring and reasoning, which brings confusion. Children are also simple, uncomplicated and truthful. They say what they mean and mean what they say. They’re not people-pleasers — they are free to be themselves and are not overly concerned about what others think. If a child has a friend or relative they really enjoy being around, it is not hard for them to tell that person how much they love them.
And if someone hurts a child’s feelings or they get into an argument with a friend, they don’t wait for days to patch things up. It’s usually just a short time until their forgiving nature kicks in, apologies are exchanged, and the situation is forgotten.
I think one of the greatest qualities of a child is their ability to giggle and laugh at just about anything. If they’re discouraged or upset because things didn’t go their way, they can usually bounce back quickly. No matter what they do, they always seem to have fun. I’ll never forget the time I sent my youngest son, Danny, outside to sweep the patio. At first, he really didn’t want to do it. But when I looked to see how he was doing a few minutes later, I saw him sweeping the floor and dancing with the broom. Amazing! But that’s how children are — lighthearted and carefree. If they’re going to do something, they’re going to enjoy it.
Childlike traits like these are the characteristics God wants to restore in us. These are the qualities that make life enjoyable. The truth is that God really wants us to enjoy our lives. In John 10:10, Jesus said, …I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows). So when Jesus comes to live in our hearts, He doesn’t come and put a straightjacket on us, locking us into a rigid, religious way of life that’s boring and legalistic. He comes to set us free. That doesn’t mean we’re to live sloppy, undisciplined lives. It just means we’re free to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and enjoy everything we do.
God doesn’t want us to divide our lives into a section of things we enjoy and a section of things we hate. He doesn’t want us to waste our lives being miserable most of the time and thinking, “Boy, I’ll be glad when this is over so I can go and do this other thing I really enjoy.”
No. He wants us to look to Him every day to teach us how to enjoy things, such as our spouse, our family and our home, as well as prayer, Bible study and going to church. If we’ll let Him, God will even take our routine responsibilities, such as cleaning the house, washing clothes and going to the grocery store, and make them enjoyable, too.
Restoring your Lost Child
The bottom line is, God wants you and me to enjoy our lives and grow in our relationship with Him. He wants us to have the lighthearted, carefree attitude of a child and yet still be responsible. How? By leaning on Him continuously for everything we need, including the strength to do what’s right.
I encourage you to look for the humor in things and learn to laugh at life more. The Bible says that laughter is like medicine, and the joy of the Lord is our strength.4 The other thing you need to do is relax, trust God and take Him at His Word. He tells us not to worry about what we’re going to wear, what we’re going to eat or what we’re going to drink because He will take care of it.5 He is Abba Father and you and I are His children. Even if our own parents forget us, He won’t.6
I encourage you to let the Lord fully restore the lost child in you. Go to God and say, “Father, You know the things I experienced while growing up as a child, and You see the things I missed out on. I ask You to restore in me the childlike qualities the enemy has stolen. Please show me each day how to enjoy every single thing I do. I don’t want to hold on to unforgiveness, and I don’t want to try and figure everything out. I want to walk in love, be quick to forgive, and learn how to trust you with everything. Thank You for giving me Your grace (strength) and restoring the lost child in me. In Jesus’ name, amen.”
Joyce Meyer is a best-selling author and one of the leading practical Bible teachers, spreading God’s Word to millions of people around the world. Joyce teaches on hundreds of subjects, has authored over 70 books, and conducts close to 20 conferences each year. Joyce speaks openly about her abuse as a child, her failed first marriage, and her struggles over the years. Her life is transparent, and her teachings are practical and can be applied in everyday life. Her heart to reach the world has made humanitarian aid a large part of Joyce Meyer Ministries’ work. Joyce believes, and teaches, that no matter anyone’s background or mistakes in life, God has a place for them and can help them on their path to enjoying everyday life.