Monday, July 29, 2013

The Faith of a Child

Like Alfred E. Neuman, little Maclane was thinking, "What, me worry?"
Daddy had him firmly by the hand.

Recently we spent time in the Florida panhandle at the beach – at least until torrential rains arrived, ending our idyllic hours in the sand and sending us home to equally rainy Chattanooga. During our time at Seagrove Beach, I enjoyed observing our two-year-old grandson, Maclane, who was also there with his mom and dad.

Despite the crashing of the waves and the tug of the surf with its ebbing and flowing, little Mac was undaunted. He had not a care in the world. Why? Because either his mom or dad – and sometimes both – held him by the hand, protecting him from the current as well as the possibility of losing his balance and falling into the water.

It occurred to me that Mac never seemed worried even once about whether his parents would let go of him as they ventured a bit deeper into the water. Not a single time did his face show any fear that Daddy might release him into the sea when it was well over his head.
Children are born with implicit faith
in the loving, protective grasp of a parent.

Yes, Mac was wearing “floaties” for extra protection, but he had absolute, unwavering faith that Mommy and Daddy were there to protect him and ward off any danger as they played together in the waves.

We’ve all observed similar things at the local swimming pool: A toddler standing at pool’s edge, being urged by Dad or Mom to jump into arms extended to catch them. Children seem to be born with built-in faith, never doubting their parents will feed them, care for them, protect them from the dangers that lurk all around.

Perhaps that’s why Jesus often used children as examples of the faith and trust He expects of His followers. For instance, the Lord said, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).

A while later, when Jesus’ disciples tried to keep children away from Him, thinking they were a bother, He responded, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:4).

Again referring to the simple faith they exhibited, Jesus commented, “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a child will never enter it” (Luke 18:17).

Sadly, many children experience having their faith betrayed by parents in many ways. Some of those parents, out of their own brokenness, have been uncaring to their children, selfish and even cruel. Tragically, faith in human parents is not always rewarded.

But faith in our Heavenly Father, I’ve always seen rewarded. “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you,” God promises in Hebrews 13:5. In the Old Testament, the psalmist writes,I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread” (Psalm 37:25).

There are countless other biblical passages that express the same truth – that God is constant and unfailing, always worthy of our faith and trust. As Hebrews 10:23 admonishes, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”

As the old children’s hymn declares, “How do I know? The Bible tells me so.”

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