Sometimes, I’m deeply envious of my three-year-old son. As a middle-aged man, there aren’t too many things in life that really excite me anymore. I’m not saying that I get no pleasure out of life, but that little things – like playing in dirt or running through a sprinkler – just don’t turn me on that much.
The other day, I set up a fun lawn sprinkler designed for children. It looked like some sort of caterpillar with many legs. I turned it on and it sprayed water in all directions, wiggling and gyrating wildly. My son screamed with delight and his face beamed with joy. I videotaped him having fun. He would run up to the sprinkler and jump up and down, while water splashed off his face and drenched his clothes. Then he would run up to my camera, screaming with delight. Over and over, he did this, until it was time to turn off the water and go inside.
The scene reminded me of those long summer days that I enjoyed as a child. Water gun fights. Going to the corner store for ice cream. Lying down on the grass and talking with a friend. It’s hard for me to believe that summer vacation was only two months long. Those two months seemed to last forever.
As we grow up, we seem to lose the intense pleasure we had doing the simple things we did as children. We need bigger things to really excite us: winning a lottery, buying a fabulous new home, going on a great vacation. Because those kinds of things don’t happen very often, most adults are usually pretty bored with their lives. So they often compensate in negative ways. They might drink too much, have affairs, go to strip clubs, or watch porn. Or, hopefully, they will compensate in more constructive ways: start their own business, write a novel, build a cottage near a lake, etc. Most adults usually make do with the quiet pleasures of doing well at work, having a successful marriage and raising well-behaved children.
Adult life certainly can be boring, stressful, frustrating and disappointing – much of the time. The temptation is strong to take the “broad and easy road” that the devil promises to get some kicks out of life or, at least, dull the pain. It’s a lot more difficult to take the “hard and narrow road” that leads to eternal life. However, I am convinced that if you do take that tough road, God will renew the joy of your youth.