What My Children Have Taught Me About Faith

If you’ve spent time attending church you’ve probably heard it said that our faith should be like that of a child’s. I’ve always understood this passage. Even before I was an adult, I understood the premise of this verse. It makes sense. Now that I have children of my own though, I see this idea a little differently. I used to “understand” the idea, but now I have truly seen what it looks like and I understand it. If that makes any sense at all. It’s amazing what perspective can do for your understanding. Let’s stay on topic though.

My wife and I have 4 children, ages 6 and under. As you can imagine, they are pretty needy. Well, maybe not needy, but they are hugely dependent on us. My son recently lost his tooth, well two teeth, and I had several people ask if we were going to go the tooth fairy route. My answer was a firm no, just as we don’t do Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. We also don’t sugar coat the death of animals, where food comes from, and the inevitable end of every living person. You may be thinking, good for you, or more likely, why do that to your children? What’s the harm right? Why not let them have a little fun? Why take away their innocence? Just let them be kids right? That’s easy, my children trust me. They trust me to tell them the truth, not to lie to them. That trust is important and it’s important that we strive to build that trust early on so they’ll believe us when it really matters.

Trust is Key

You see, trust is the key. Our children depend on us to care for them, love them, keep them safe, and provide for them. Ultimately though, they trust us to do all of this, often taking it for granted. All of my kids, for some crazy reason, have always trusted me to catch them when they jump off our furniture. Like, they are way too high, way too young, it’s going to be a painful drop, and I’m not even looking in their direction. They jump anyways. They aren’t thinking about what all could go wrong, they are simply trusting that I’ll keep catch them and keep them from harm. While I can happily claim that I have yet to drop one, it’s crazy behavior. It’s not simply trust, it’s that my kids have this unshakable, absolute faith in my ability to care for them. They are too young, too inexperienced, to realize that they have fallible, sinful parents that are far from perfect.

Thankfully, unlike my wonderful, precious children, we have a perfect, infallible heavenly Father. He is someone that we can trust and have faith in. Unlike my children, however, I don’t have the same, absolute trust in God’s ability to care for me that my children have in me. It’s a hard and awful truth about myself that I’ve had to face as I’ve thought through this topic. Now, I don’t think that makes me unique, no, I’d guess that I’m the normal one. I’m not the kind of person to make bets, but I’d bet that most of us struggle with completely trusting God with our lives in the same way our children trust us.

Our 4 year old daughter will occasionally ask me about bad guys. “Are they real? Are there any around here? Do we have to worry about them getting us?” All great questions, but pretty surprising that she was asking them. Anyways, I did what any good dad would do in this situation. I told her that yes, bad guys were real, but we’d keep her safe and that she didn’t have anything to fear. Armed with her faith in us, that was enough. She trusted us and assumed that we would take care of her. Let me ask this, when’s the last time you prayed for something and simply assumed that God was going to take care of it and simply put it out of your mind because you knew without a doubt that He was handling it?

See Hebrews 11 for more on Faith.

The But Why? Syndrome

My children do not always understand why we do what we do in the house. They don’t understand why they can’t eat lots of candy, why some members of our family have to avoid eating gluten, why they have to take naps and have to go to bed while the sun is out. They don’t understand why only daddy gets to drink hot coffee and use the saw. Ultimately though, they trust us, their parents, and go along with our way of life despite not understanding why. I’m the type of person that hates not knowing WHY. For me, the why is often more important than the actual task itself. I realize that this is a deficiency in my own heart and mind.

You may have realized this already, but God does not have the same perspective that we have. He does not work in our hearts and in the world the same way that we would like. I know that I sometimes for get this. He is a lot like us as parents. This became very real for me when once my children started asking the awful, never ending, God just please let it end, string of why questions. Just as I have to tell my kids, God has to tell us that just because we desire something does not mean it’s what is good for us. Let’s be honest, having lots of money would not be good for a lot of us. It’s clear however, that situations and circumstances that we perceive as bad may just be God’s way of revealing His truth to us. It may just be God trying to get your attention. God does not care about your worldly success. He cares most about the status of your heart. As parents, this is what we do for our children. We don’t give them every desire of their hearts, we give them what they need to grow, we equip them to some day be adults to be able to function on their own.

For me, in my own life, this very simple and incredibly obvious truth, has helped me to alter the perspective of my relationship with God. My prayers have become a lot less of “why God? why did you let this happen?” to something more akin to, “Lord, how can I be better? How can I use this an opportunity to bless someone else or grow in my own life?” The focus goes off of this idea of “why are you punishing me?” to “how can I make the most of the situation?”

I always come back to Matthew 6 for this next part, specifically verse 26 and down, but the whole chapter is so great. “26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” As God is very clear, I take care of the birds, do you not think I’m going to also take care of you? Aren’t you more important than a bird? Well if you don’t know this one, yes, yes you are. Jesus died on the cross for your soul, not a bird’s.

In the end, it all comes down to faith. Our hope in the unseen God. Ultimately you have to choose, am I going to put the ultimate trust in God? Am I going to just assume that He is going to hold up His end of the deal? When I’m down, my wife usually says, “How can you trust God with your eternal soul, but not this temporary, Earthly thing?” Typically she says it when I’m being obstinate so it doesn’t’ have nearly the impact it should. Generally it’s a day or two later when it hits me and I’m like, “Ohhhh crap.”

This is what my children have taught me. I need to trust God, with everything, all the time, even when it looks bad and I don’t understand why or how. I just have to accept that He, not I, am in control and for better or worse, it’s what I or someone else needs. I’ll be honest, this has been quite freeing for me. I was in a funk for over a month, but since I’ve kind of had this brain breaking and way too obvious revelation, I’ve been doing a lot better. It’s made me a better Father, husband, and friend.

With everything going on right now, this might hit close to home for many people. If this has helped you in any way, I recommend sharing it with people you care about, if not the post, at least the spirit of the post.

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