“There are two methods of serving little children. One is to give them all they want for present pleasure. Another is to deny them present pleasure for greater good. God is a wise Father, and chooses the best way to conduct his children.
“A sad exterior is more sure to repel than attract to piety. It is necessary to serve God, with a certain joyousness of spirit, with a freedom and openness , which renders it manifest that His yoke is easy that it is neither a burden nor inconvenience.
“If you would please God, be useful to others, and happy yourself, you must renounce the melancholy disposition. It is better to divert your mind with innocent recreations than to nourish melancholy.” ~Madam Guyon
Caring for Children
I changed “serving” to “caring” in this paragraph heading because the phrase “serving little children” reminded me of an old episode of Twilight Zone titles “To Serve Man”. The title came from a book being carried by aliens who came to earth and pretended to be friendly. Eventually, though, the government linguistics experts were able to translate the rest of the book and found that it was a cookbook with recipes on how to serve man as a meal.
In a way, the first type of child care that Madam Guyon mentions is a lot like that Twilight Zone episode. It seemed like the aliens were doing a good thing by helping man cure disease, end poverty, and so on. It wasn’t so good when we discovered they were just caring for their flock of sheep. Likewise, giving kids everything they want, or at least everything within your financial state, seems good at the time, but turns out bad. Those kids grow up thinking they should have everything handed to them on a silver platter. They should not have to work, think, or struggle. Unfortunately, few people other than their parents agree with that. Even the parents usually stop once they become adults.
The better parent is the one who sometimes says “No”. Whether it be, “No, you can’t have that,” or “No, I wont just give it to you; you will have to work for it,” They are teaching the child that he can’t always get what he wants. In short, they are teaching him about the real world rather than a fantasy one where everyone will just give him whatever he wants. As Madam Guyon says, God is that kind of parent. He rarely, if ever, grants anyone an instant spiritual awakening or instant enlightenment. It has to be worked for and earned.
Serve God With Joy
There are some people who refuse to serve God. They rarely realize that by doing so, they are volunteering to serve Satan. Others will serve God, but are not happy about it and will let their displeasure show. The third group serves God joyfully because they realize that an eternal life with God is the reward for serving Him and His Great Plan.
Those who serve reluctantly are better than those who refuse to serve God at all, but still don’t reap all the benefits of those who serve with joy. But here is the catch-22 f the situation: if you serve God expecting to get something for it, you are not truly serving and won’t get all the benefits either. You have to serve with joy and because it is the right thing to do, not because you will get rewarded for doing so.
Madam Guyon advises using innocent recreation to help us when we are melancholy. That is good advice, but we need take care not to overdo it. There are people in the world who spend so much time playing games, watching movies, playing sports, and so on that they never do anything of consequence. They do nothing to make the world a better place because they are not truly living in it, but in a fantasy version of it. They do nothing to improve themselves for the same reason. That isn’t innocent recreation, it’s hiding. The world will not get better until we stop hiding from reality and start making it better. Enjoy your entertainments, but remember reality and work to make it better.