Not surprisingly, I’ve been thinking about child-like faith a lot lately. Tends to happen when the majority of your time, energy, love, and focus is two adorable little children, I guess. 🙂 Actually, it’s because of these two wonderful children of ours that I’m understanding child-like faith in a whole new way.
In his gospel, Mark relays this lovely little scene: People were bringing little children to [Jesus] in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them (Mark 10:13-16).
I love picturing Jesus this way – defending the children and their parents against the misguided and impatient disciples who thought the Mighty Messiah was to busy for a bunch of kids, firmly but gently correcting the disciples misunderstanding as he tenderly scoops up the children into his loving arms and blesses them. There is peace and encouragement in his demeanor. Love and compassion shine in his eyes. Something kinda like this …
“Laughing Baby” by Jean Keaton
I used to read this passage and think about it from the point of view of the disciples – those who, once again, did not understand but whose eyes were opened by Jesus’ kindness and his welcoming spirit. I used to read this passage and think about it from the children’s point of view – those who didn’t truly understand what was going on, but who felt rejected one minute and unconditionally loved the next. I even used to read this passage and think about it from the point of view of Jesus – the One who took this seemingly-haphazard encounter and turned it into a chance to teach about God’s message of acceptance and grace.
But now, when I read this passage, I think about it from a different point of view.
Now, when I read this encounter between Jesus and the children, I think of it from God’s point of view – the point of view of the One who brought those beautiful children into the world, the One who looked on them with such an all-encompassing love it was liable to burst out all around the seams of Creation, the One who would do anything to bring those children back into relationship with their loving Creator.
Having my two boys has given me a whole new perspective on this short but familiar passage … a whole new perspective on what child-like faith means. You see, when you are a child, you don’t consciously think about filling your eyes with love when your mom or dad comes into view. You don’t think to yourself, “I’m going to grin from ear to ear now because my mom or dad’s attention is focused only on me right now.” As you’re falling asleep in Mom or Dad’s arms, you don’t consciously acknowledge that you’re safe and warm and surrounded by love. When you’re a child, all of these wonderful things just happen because your love for those who care for you is so complete. It doesn’t question. It doesn’t second guess. It doesn’t get weighed down by things like suspicion, doubt, or past misunderstandings. When you’re a child, you love because you love. It’s that simple. It’s that beautifully, awe-inspiringly, graciously simple. It looks something like this:
“Mommy! Daddy! You’re here to take care of me, to feed me and make sure I’m comfortable and happy, to love me not because of what I can do for you or what you can gain from me but just because you love me. I am so happy to see you! I don’t care whether you’re perfect or not. I don’t care whether you think you should be better, do better, live better, or provide better. Let me show you just how much I love you right here in this very moment.”
*tear* Yup. That’s what I see in those faces: unabashed, unconditional, unforgettable love. And every single time I see it, it blows my mind. (Can you tell this momma recently dropped her boys off at daycare? *sniff sniff* Thank God for our wonderful daycare woman. Thank you, Amy!)
What if we approached God with a love like that? Open and unassuming and powerful like the love on those boys’ faces? What if we put our trust in God without question, without reservation, without conditions and strings attached? What if we let our guard down enough to really be vulnerable with God – as vulnerable as a little child, relying on God for what we need because God knows what that is better than we ever will? What if ……..?
I am far from perfect. I know that no matter how hard I try, I will make mistakes in raising our boys. I will have things to apologize for. I will have things to make up for. As a family, we will have good days and bad days and days in between. But I also know that my love for my boys will never waiver. It will never fade or morph into something that looks and feels less like love. They will always be my babies … even when they’re old and grey and I’m long gone from this earth. And I will always do everything in my power to care for them. And what continues to amaze me each and every time I think about it is that this is the way God looks at us. This is the way God love us. Times a million. It’s mind-boggling. It’s humbling. And it’s reassuring.