THE TAKE AWAY
Childlike faith is about God, not His answers
By Kersley Fitzgerald
Our back porch light doesn't work very well. It's on a motion detector, but only detects when it wants to.
A year or so ago, JT stood at the back door after letting the dog out. "Mom, the light will work. You just have to pray and ask God to take away your sins."
"Okay," I said. Knowing that any correction of his childlike faith would be met with the light immediately coming on.
He prayed quietly and flipped the switch. The light came on.
A few years ago it was dreams. "Mom, all I have to do is lie in bed. Pictures go through my head and I say, 'God, I want to dream about that one...and that one...and that one.' Then I do!"
Cool. Awesome. I could get used to having a 7-year old prayer warrior in the house who has faith that God will answer.
It reminds me a bit of Peter. There's no record that Peter prayed for fish in Luke 5:4-11, but Jesus still provided despite his doubts. A while later, when Jesus told Peter to go fishing to find a shekel for taxes, there's no record that he hesitated. He'd learned to trust Jesus to provide.
Lately it hasn't been a simple. "Mom, I prayed to get better, but I'm still sick." That's the way it works sometimes. "I prayed for my school, but it's still closing." God has other plans. It's interesting to watch him grow spiritually from childlike faith to a deeper understanding.
And it's interesting to see how God parents him. How God develops his faith while keeping it childlike. It began simple: "If I ask for something, God will give it to me." Now, at 11, he's learning the hard lesson of, "If I ask for something, God might give me what I want, but He'll definitely give me what I need." Sometimes "need" includes a school closing. Sometimes it means learning patience and perseverance through a two-week cold. He's developing a childlike faith that God will answer in a way that's best.
Peter reached that point around the time of the crucifixion. Not only his betrayal (fear that God wouldn't give him the protection he needed), but also the end of John 21 when Jesus tells Peter he will die by crucifixion. Peter doesn't want it, and he fights it. In Acts 2, he begins to understand — God will provide what he needs.
In parallel, JT's getting to: "If I ask for something, God will answer, but not necessarily in the way I expected." We ran into that recently. "I prayed God would make me not scared, but He didn't." He then went on to explain that he'd come to our bedroom door, but didn't knock.
"Well," I said. "It sounds to me like God answered your prayer — He told you to come see us. But you didn't follow His instruction." He didn't get that. So I told him the story of the old man on the roof of his house in the flood. He got that one! We now have a system. If he's scared, he's to come get us, cry out, or play his drum set in his room. So we're working on a childlike faith that God will provide, but we may have to look out for how.
Sounds like Jesus' first miracle at the Wedding in Cana. I don't know how Mary expected Jesus to find wine for the party, but I bet she didn't expect Him to make it out of water!
Soon JT will approach the next level, where I am, because he is a clever child and much more in tune with his surroundings than I ever was. Something along the lines of a childlike faith that acts. Just as he's now learning that God answers in ways we don't understand, he'll learn that embodying that faith means we must act in ways we don't understand. There are reasons for the things written in the Bible. A lot of them we won't know until and unless we obey. Many we won't know in this life. It takes a lot of faith to accept that. Not in a legalistic, fill-in-the-bubbles kind of way, but in an active, live-together kind of way.
In Acts 12, Peter starts really showing obedient faith. James the Apostle, son of Zebedee and brother to the author of the Gospel of John, has been executed. Peter's in prison and very vulnerable. Peter keeps his active faith. He sings in prison, he escapes when the angels tell him to, and he continued his ministry until his death. His faith fought against the fear that had so crippled him during the crucifixion.
Next (I think. I haven't reached there, yet.) is just a childlike faith that God. That He is Who He says He is. That He will act accordingly. That His character is something we can completely submit to. And that we can actively, engagingly rest in Him.
JT is getting there. He understands that his school will close and that he needs to go to a new school. He has faith that the new school is going to be a good experience — he recently found out one of his classmates will be joining him. As he enters the teen years, the struggle to find an active faith will be acute, but he has a pretty good foundation.
It's said that Peter, while he was being crucified upside-down, made the effort to encourage his wife, who was crucified beside him. I think that's a pretty strong example of "faith that God." He understood Who God is and what that means. It will be pretty amazing to see JT work toward that kind of childlike faith.
Photo source: Kersley Fitz
Tags: Christian-Life | God-Father | Hardships | Personal-Life
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