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I once read a book by a psychologist who said we all need to get in touch with our “inner child.” I never really understood what he meant by that. But I thought it might help to hang this picture of me on my office wall.

Although that solution hasn’t helped me much yet, I haven’t given up the search for my inner child…

As you can see by this picture, I was a free-spirited hell-raiser as a child. You probably were too, if you’ll be honest.

When people see this picture, with my hands lifted high, I tell them I was just worshiping the Lord. But I think you can see that something much different was going on—something mischievous and out of control. Cameras don’t lie, after all.

And when I was in preschool, the teacher sent a note home to my parents, saying, “Jimmy is too free with his hands.” Hmmm… I’ve always wondered what she meant by that.

Lately I’ve found myself wanting to regain some of the unshackled aspects of the Jimmy Buchan in this picture. Fun-loving. Carefree. Emotionally expressive. Outside the box.

Whatever happened to that inner child? I guess he “grew up” along the way. Aided by college and law school degrees, marriage, kids, car payments, mortgages, and job transitions, I became more serious and sophisticated. I learned to keep my spontaneous outbursts to a minimum and was no longer “too free with my hands.”

But this new maturity came at a price. The carefree Jimmy  was replaced by a burdened-down Jim—dealing with the cares of life, concerns about the future, and worries about what other people think of me.

And this grownup Jim became a lot more “religious” than Jimmy the toddler, and I don’t mean in a positive way. On my good days, I’m convinced that Jesus loves Jim. But sometimes I think He might like Jimmy even better.

The Gospels describe the Pharisees as people who thought they could enter into favor with God by being more circumspect, serious, and “under control.” It must have been quite shocking when Jesus told them the door into His kingdom was to become like little children again (Matthew 18:1-5, 19:13-14).

My daughter Abbie once had an experience that illustrates this. When she was four years old, she had a dream in which she was in heaven, “playing with Jesus.” Through the eyes of a child, it makes perfect sense that Jesus would be playful and fun-loving. But through the eyes of a religious person, that makes no sense at all.

So please pray for me to rediscover my childlike faith—the fun-loving, uninhibited inner child who delights in life and enjoys the simplicity of knowing Jesus.

And I’ll be praying for you too.

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