As the official start of spring approaches, here’s a warm-weather image – especially for those of you who have endured much of the winter up to your eyeballs in snow and ice.
Picture a small boy or girl, not more than two years old, standing at the edge of a sun-drenched community pool. Daddy’s in the pool with arms extended, encouraging tiny Jimmy or Jill to dive in, promising to catch the little leaper. A bit wary, the child finally casts caution aside and makes the jump toward the inviting water. As promised, Daddy grabs mini-person and holds on securely.
Why does the child do it? Jumping into water over your head is dangerous when you can’t swim. What if the child slips through the father’s grasp and goes underwater? Or what if Daddy decides not to catch the little one? There’s just one reason the child does it: Childlike faith.
Little Jimmy or Jill might not jump into the arms of a complete stranger. Hopefully they won’t. But they know Daddy. A relationship has been established, built on love and trust. If Daddy asks them to jump, there’s no reason for fear. And they don’t have to stop and calculate the various risks – all they know is Daddy is totally reliable. He keeps his promises. There’s nothing to worry about. So they jump. And most likely, throughout the summer they will jump again, again and again.
On numerous occasions, Jesus talked about the faith of a child. He told His followers, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who does not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (Luke 18:16-17).
Another time Jesus used a child for show-and-tell: “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 18:2-4).
Like a little girl hurling herself off the edge of a pool into a parent’s waiting arms, without gathering statistical evidence to confirm the likelihood of mom or dad successfully catching her, God calls us to exercise similar faith in committing to Him.
That doesn’t mean throwing all reason aside. Faith in Jesus Christ doesn’t require mindless, unquestioning commitment. God isn’t intimidated by our doubts and questions. They’re actually helpful in the process of spiritual growth.
At the same time, faith involves a willingness to proceed in trust when we being asked to venture into the unknown. Just as jumping into a pool amounts to a literal leap of faith for a toddler, many times God asks His spiritual children to take leaps of faith.
The first “leap” is receiving the gift of salvation Christ offers, accepting His death on the cross as the only possible atonement for the forgiveness of our sins. But that’s just one of many occasions when, like the trusting child, we must proceed even when the way seems unclear or uncertain.
That’s been the case several times in my career, changing jobs and moving my family as God directed. Sometimes He calls us to perform acts of charitable generosity that don’t make sense from a financial standpoint. “Put the calculator away,” God says. “Just do what I ask – and trust Me to more than make up the difference.”
There are countless other ways our heavenly Father asks us to follow Him with childlike faith, when “common sense” urges us otherwise. That’s why Proverbs 3:5-6 has become so dear to me over the years. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”
Many times my “own understanding” raised red flags, cautioning, “You don’t want to do that – that’s silly.” But then God said, “Trust Me. I know exactly what I’m doing.” Thankfully, He’s shown that to be true more times than I could ever remember.
As adults we want to be “sophisticated,” relying on logic and reason. We prefer to walk by sight and not by faith, feeling too “grown up” for spiritual intangibles. But ultimately, that’s what faith is all about. It’s “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Another translation says it’s “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
For the little child at pool’s edge, staring at Daddy’s outreached hands, the leap forward isn’t based on hope-so but confident assurance, never doubting the parent will do as promised. God desires the same childlike trust from us. It’s like He’s saying, “Child, you’ve trusted Me before and I’ve always come through for you. Why would I stop doing that now?”