Have you ever thought back to your childhood and how you used to have such a vivid imagination and longed to simply spend summer afternoons outside playing in your backyard until it got dark? I don’t know about you but I miss the innocence of my childhood immensely sometimes, before I knew how much darkness and cruelty there is in the world around us. That innocence is written about quite nicely in “Toy Soldiers,” Carbon Leaf’s 2002 masterpiece that appeared on their equally perfect album “Echo Echo.”
As the song begins we find the protagonist falling asleep and dreaming about his childhood:
“I fell asleep in my writing chair
I dreamt I'd found my childhood stare
To family dinner Christmas night
We'd cross the river shipyard lights
Before the heartbreak and unknown.”
You see he is dreaming about Christmas time with his family and the joy he felt ‘before the heartbreak and unknown.” That is a special time in our lives and it is a time that I believe God gives us when we are children as a gift. As children we sometimes find it easier to apply the words of David in Psalm 37:4 “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you your heart’s desires.” As children it is much easier to have the joy of the Lord because we look around and primarily see the good in the world. I realize this is unfortunately not the case for some children, as tragedy like death, divorce and financial discord can strike in any family when children are young, but for many of us, we have grown up blessed with that special innocence and joy. I know that despite the fact that I was a very shy young man, I had joy most of my formative years.
In Matthew chapter 19, Jesus’ disciples try to keep parents from bringing their children to Him for blessing, but Jesus rebukes them saying “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom Of Heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14). Think about that statement for a minute, commentators have said this means that if we approach Jesus with a childlike faith that He can do anything and He is God, Jesus will bless that faith. Because we live in a cynical world, this kind of ‘childlike faith’ that David also talks about in Psalm 116:6 is harder and harder to maintain, but it is an essential part of faith as Christians. We serve big God, who is capable of anything, and I know I sometimes forget that myself!
As the song progresses we find the protagonist making a statement that reflects a loss of childlike faith, while finding him longing to get that kind of faith back once again:
“We find the people of our dreams
We find that they're not what they seem
I've learned that people come and go
I've learned that families break and grow”
Don’t we all often find that things like people, jobs, and sports teams often don’t fulfill us the way we thought? We think that we have that dream job, or can cheer on championship sports team, or have met our dream girl or guy? Yet all of those things and people are living in a fallen world with us, and therefore are going to let us down. That is why Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 4:8 “There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. "For whom am I toiling," he asked, "and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?" This too is meaningless— a miserable business!” (NIV). In this instance the man is alone with no family, but he still has worked hard and earned great wealth, yet he is not content Solomon tells us. In achieving his wealth it appears that he forgo any family or friendships, which ultimately leads to despair according to Solomon. Solomon then goes on to say “Better a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king who no longer knows how to take warning.” (v. 4:13).
Jesus warned us by asking in Luke 9:25 "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? (NKJV). You see if we don’t have material wealth but are wise and know that we should seek the Lord in everything we are richer than a King who has everything but will one day die and be able to take none of it with him! That in some ways is what Carbon Leaf are saying by writing about how people, jobs and families let us down.
If this is true then, how are we supposed to have any kind of hope, joy or faith like a child that both David and Jesus have stated is so important? Well, David gave us some great advice in Psalm 33 for starters. He writes in verse 20-22”We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you.”
See friends, anything in this world is going to let us down at some point. I say that with a firm hold on my diehard optimist card. The reason for this is the fact that there are, as Paul wrote “mighty powers of darkness who rule this world” (Ephesians 6:12b). When you keep in mind this fact, that Satan and his demons are active in our world with the goal of causing us pain and wrecking havoc on our families and friends, it is easy to see why people will ultimately let us down. That is why we must not put our hope in people, but in the Lord alone! His love is as David wrote an ‘unfailing love’ that we can trust in, no matter what comes our way in life. We won’t always feel that love, but we can confidently know that His love is always there, no matter what!