Last week we talked about how Jesus called the children to Him, blessing them (See: 5 Prayers for our Children). He also taught about what it takes to enter the kingdom of God:
“Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
So what does that look like exactly?
I believe we can learn a lot about God by studying the relationship between parent and child and the faith children place in their parents.
When our son is playing soccer, I’ll see him look up every once in a while to see if we’re watching, especially if he just scored a goal. He knows we’re there, but he wants to know we see him. At our daughter’s ballet recital, the first thing her and all of her three and four year-old classmates did was try to find their families in the audience. Again, they knew we were there but they wanted to know we were watching.
Our kids trust we will be there for them. They trust us to know what’s important to them and to be there to see them, to know them.
Childlike faith in God is trusting He is there, even when we can’t see Him. It’s trusting His eye is on us and He knows what’s important to us.
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.”
We have a saying in our house. I’ll tell my kids, “I love you.” And they’ll repeat it back. Then I’ll ask, “Even when you’re naughty?” Then they answer, “Yes. Even when I’m naughty.” It’s a beautiful thing. Our kids know they will never lose our love. Even when they’re having a hard time or when they lose control, we’ll be there to love them through it.
That’s how our Father is. Even when we screw up, when we sin, when we walk away, when we hide our face from Him, He still loves us. And He loves us through it, providing His Spirit as the Divine Helper to turn us around, change our hearts, and teach us to love Him better.
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
One of our kids favorite places to go is the local dollar store. That place seems to have everything…and it’s only a dollar. So when we walk in, our kids immediately run to the back of the store where the toys are and start to ask for whatever trinket they find on that particular day. Sometimes I say no. Sometimes I say yes. And while our kids don’t always take it well, they know I am the authority over them and I make the decisions about what we need.
We get to fight over toys at the dollar store because my kids take many things for granted. They have faith we will provide for their needs. They have faith they will have a house and a bed to sleep in. They trust we will provide regular access to food and water. They have faith that when winter comes they will have a coat, snow pants, boots, mittens, and a hat to keep them warm.
Having the faith of our children is trusting God will provide for us. He knows our needs and He is more than able to meet them. His timing is also perfect and He will give us just what we need just when we need it.
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”
Especially when our kids are young, they need us to take them by the hand to lead them where they need to go. I still grab our daughter’s hand when we walk in a parking lot to keep her close to me and safe from passing cars. When we get in the car, our kids may ask where we’re going but they don’t usually ask how to get there. They trust we know where we’re going and we’ll get us all there safely.
Children must also be disciplined at times, because, it turns out that like us, they are not perfect. I’ve been reading The Connected Child and it talks about the importance of playful engagement with our kids. It frames discipline not necessarily as punitive, though at times it is, but as teaching our children so they can learn and grow. It advocates for discipline to meet the level of misbehavior which is sometimes just asking if our children would like to try again.
God is like that. He gives us chance after chance, forgiving us each time we ask. He also knows the Way. Having the faith of a child is trusting that God has a path laid out for us and only He knows how to lead us. It’s coming under His authority in our lives and submitting to His will and teaching.
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
The Faith of a Child
Having the faith of our children is knowing we bring joy to our Creator simply by existing and even greater joy when we become the people we were created to be. It means asking for help when we need it, trusting the answers, and learning from our mistakes. It means living more in the moment, realizing every breath matters. It’s looking up every so often to see our Creator looking back at us, watching us with eyes of Love. And it’s knowing that He gave everything, even conquering death, in order to give us life.
The faith of a child allows us to be free. Free to be who we were made to be. Free to do what we were created to do. Free to grow in the gifts of the Spirit.