If you haven’t noticed, there’s a concerted effort to convince everyone to wear seatbelts. Studies have shown people that drive or ride in cars without seatbelts fastened have a much higher risk of serious injury or death in an accident. Some states have even waxed poetic, warning drivers to “Click It or Ticket.”
When I was a kid, no one knew anything about seatbelts. It’s a wonder any of us lived to tell about it. You just got in the front or back seat and your parents instructed you to “sit still!” The danger, in our minds, was discipline from mom or dad, not forward momentum in the event of a sudden stop.
|With childlike faith, toddlers|
submit to car seat and seatbelts.
Today, however, we’re wiser and most of us “click it.” We’ve heard and accepted the safety message. Engineers have even performed great feats in designing car seats for infants and toddlers to protect them from highway mayhem. Most of the time kids don’t argue about being buckled in, although they usually don’t know where they’re going or why, or how long it will take to get there.
Trustingly they endure the seatbelt restraints and relax in their places, except for the occasional “Are we there yet?” To which the astute mom or dad replies, “No, we’re not there yet. If we were, would we still be in the car?”
We don’t give it much thought, but submitting to car seat and seatbelt without question is an act of faith for young ones. How do they know they’re not being taken to the zoo, to be fed to the lions? Or to a restaurant that serves only chicken livers and Brussels sprouts? With trusting hearts they ride along, staring at the backs of their parents’ heads or observing the passing scenery, awaiting arrival at who knows where – or when.
We’re now in the first week of 2014, and while we don’t feel seatbelts surrounding us as we proceed into the year, we suspect we’re in for quite a ride. We don’t know where we’re going or what things will be like when we get there. All we know for certain is we’re on our way.
One of the advantages of having faith in God is even though we’re as uncertain about the future as anyone else, we have confidence our “tour guide” knows where we’re going and won’t let us get lost. “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps” (Proverbs 16:9).
People wary of what lies ahead are sometimes described as “sheepish,” and there couldn’t be a more appropriate term. In Psalm 23, a passage familiar to many of us, we find the metaphor of a shepherd leading his sheep. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters…. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sale. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you (the Lord) are with me.”
Envision a toddler fastened in a child-restraining carrier in the back seat, trusting mom or dad – whoever’s driving – to safely transport her to the destination. She’ll probably even nap along the way, and when the route gets dark or the road gets a little slick, she’s still trusting the proper care will be taken to keep her safe.
How can the child know for sure mom and dad will always provide protection and exercise caution? She can’t, except for the eyes and heart of childlike faith. And that’s exactly what God expects of us. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a child will never enter it” (Mark 10:15).
Children have such a simple, sincere faith; somehow we seem to lose that as adults, insisting the why’s and what’s and wherefore’s be fully explained. God doesn’t demand blind, unreasoning faith as we travel along life’s journey. At the same time, however, it’s like he’s saying, “I can’t explain everything to you. Even if I tried, you wouldn’t understand it. So just trust me.”