I’ve really been struggling lately with the whole idea of faith. Like, how do you have it? Is it just something you believe in? I know the bible defines faith as being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we cannot see. My pastor told me to ask God to “change my heart” and just have faith that he will. I don’t know. I just cannot seem to wrap my head around the whole idea of it.
This came up because I was reading “Heaven is For Real” by Todd Burpo. If you don’t know what it’s about or read it, basically this little boy Colton almost dies in surgery and when he comes back “to life”, he has a detailed account of heaven and Jesus and the angels. There’s one section that really hit me about faith:
“But if a kid saw all those colors, he might sum them up in one simple word: rainbow.
So when, in the spring of 2004, the most brilliant rainbow we’d ever seen appeared over Imperia, we called him outside to take a look.
Sonja was the first to see it. By then, she was just a few weeks pregnant with the baby we now considered definitely as our fourth child. It was a warm, sunny day, and she’d gone to open the front door and let the freshness into the house. ‘Hey, you guys, come see this!’ she called.
From the kitchen, I crossed the dining room to the front door and was astonished to see a rainbow so bright, so vivid, that it looked like an artist’s painting of the Perfect Rainbow. Or a kid with a brand-new box of crayons illustrating his science lesson: ROY G BIV. Every color sharply divided from the next, and the whole arc blazing against a perfectly blue sky.
“Did it rain and I missed it?” I asked Sonja.
She laughed. “I don’t think so.”
Colton was down the hall in the playroom. “Hey, Colton,” I called. “Come out and take a look at this.”
He emerged from the playroom and joined us on the front stoop.
“Look at that rainbow, Colton, ” Sonja said. “There definitely should be a big pot of gold at the end of that thing.”
Colton squinted, peering up at colors pouring across the sky.
“Cool, ” he said with a nonchalant smile. “I prayed for that yesterday.”
Then he turned around and went back to play.”
He had a real encounter with heaven and Jesus and the whole thing, and when he prayed for something, he just had faith that it would happen. There was no questioning about it or doubt. He has the faith of a child. “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (Mark 10:15)
I just find it really interesting. We’re told by society that we have to grow up, and accept all these responsibilities, and provide for ourselves and work hard for the things we want. Which, yes, we do have to do. But when it comes to God, we don’t have to work for anything. Kids don’t have all those doubts that we have. I was curious as to what actual theologians had to say about the subject, so obviously I googled it.
When I think about what it means to be childlike (in this context anyway) I mainly think about two characteristics. The first characteristic of a child is their dependence. Children would not go very far without their parents or some other type of guardian. Without a guardian, how would the child be fed? Where would the child get clothes? How would the child get around? Children are totally dependent on their guardians in every way. More importantly, not only are children dependent on others, they KNOW that they are dependent on others. Aside from a few “Home Alone” inspired fantasies, most children know that they need help. They know they need someone else to provide them food, shelter, and comfort. Even if they do not consciously think about it, they still know it to be true. To truly have a childlike faith, we need to mirror this type of dependence, and therein lies the problem. Sometimes it is hard for us to want to give up our independence. We live in a world where everyone seems to strive for complete independence, yet Jesus was telling his followers that they should be totally dependent on God. When we depend on God to provide for our needs instead of trying to do everything ourselves, our faith in Him grows. When we try to break free and seek our own independence, we run into problems. Just like children, we have to not only depend on God, we also have to KNOW that we depend on God. If not, we will start to run into issues with pride and idolatry. To truly have a childlike faith, we must realize that we are completely dependent on God and that we are simply following Him wherever He leads.
The second characteristic of a child is trust. Very young children trust most people as they have not been jaded by life experiences yet, and young children trust their parents or guardians without question and without exception. At a certain point, of course, that level of trust starts to erode as children face disappointments or strife, but initially the level of trust a child has for their guardian is implicit. This is the level of trust we should have for our Father in Heaven. Just like a small child, we should not question that He is watching out for us. We should not question that He loves us. We should not question that God has plans for us – good plans for us to prosper us and not to harm us. The problem, though, is that most of us have gone through so many different bad experiences along the way that we have trouble trusting anyone completely. We tend to let this distrust of people flow over and we end up being distrustful of God. We wonder why He is not moving fast enough for us. We wonder if He has heard our prayers and if He is acting on our behalf. We wonder if He will deliver for us. Here is the simple truth – He will!! He will do everything He has said He will do. He will never hurt you. He will never lie to you. He will never forsake you. He loves you more than you can possibly imagine. Embrace that love and trust Him completely, like an infant trusts his mother, and wait to see how He blesses your life. – (http://dailybibleplan.com/2011/03/03/a-childlike-faith/)
It just all kind of hit me all at once. I don’t really understand how faith and why faith works and why we need faith. But I don’t think God calls us to understand anything. Children don’t stop and analyze why things are the way they are. They just believe. That’s what I want…eventually. God has gotten me this far. Maybe, he’s just waiting for me to fully trust Him before He can show me the life He has planned for me.