Growing Down

Lately I’ve felt prompted to meditate on what it means to have childlike faith. In the past I considered it to mean that we must simply trust and obey. That’s certainly part of it, but being a father of three, I’ve seen enough to now believe there is much more to it. Jesus said, “Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” (See Mark 10:13–16 NKJV.) That’s serious business! In the realm of society (relationships/responsibility/reward), a young person is likely consumed with growing up, but we as Christians should be looking to “grow down” in many aspects of our faith. The following are some characteristics of a child that we would do well to apply to our faith:

1) A child engages with the parent during play. Children seek parents’ feedback on practically everything. Often my kids say, “Hey, Daddy, look at this!” twenty or thirty times during the course of an evening. God never tires out and never ceases to delight in such a request. Our heavenly Daddy isn’t the kind of dad who watches television from the comfort of a recliner and barely notices his child attempting to solicit his feedback. Rather, He wants us to bring everything to Him (even the “little” things”), and He is quick to respond. Not only that, He’s the kind of Daddy who gets down on the floor and engages on our level.

2) A child has a sense of awe/admiration/adoration for the parent. You may hear a little girl express a desire to be just like her mom and a boy express a desire to be just like his dad. Do we have that same attitude in the way we feel about our heavenly Daddy? Do we want to be more like Him each and every day?

3) A child is who is absolutely convinced the parent has his or her best interests in mind is automatically trusting and obedient. God does have our best interests at heart. The degree to which we are convinced of this is evidenced by our ability to trust and our willingness to obey. If we struggle with trust and obey reluctantly, we don’t truly know Him and the height, length, width, and depth of His love for us. God will never leave us or forsake us. If you feel separated from God, you moved, not Him. Come back home.

4) A child is dependent. A child realizes there are things unattainable without the help of the parent. Without Christ we can do nothing of eternal value. However, we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.

5) A child is humble. Prior to being arrested, Jesus prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will” (Matt. 26:9 NKJV). Have we emptied ourselves of our will for the higher purpose/calling God has for us in the center of His will?

6) A child has a sense of curiosity about practically everything and is hungry to learn. God delights in revealing things to those who ask, seek, and knock. The Bible says that His secret counsel is with the upright (Prov. 3:32). Yes, He loves teach us this and that, give us revelation, and increase our knowledge, but it seems to me that the best part for Him is the conversation.

7) A child deeply desires the constant presence of the parent. I remember lying in bed last December watching my two-year-old daughter sleep (on TV/cam). For several months she would get out of her bed, place her blanket on the floor by the door (hard laminate), and just sleep there the whole night because she was that much closer to her mom and me. I remember thinking to myself that when we do that with God—leave this or that comfort to get as close as we possibly can to Him—He’ll actually open the door.

More often than not, when God is teaching me in a certain area, He will lead me to a song that facilitates that learning. Currently that song is “Wonder” by Amanda Cook. As you give it a listen, if you’ve lost your sense of childlike wonder, ask God to restore it (because He is a faithful God, and He will answer that prayer).

May we always be wide-eyed and mystified.

The Arms of God

One of my favorite ways to show love to (and build trust in) my children is to hold them with my hands under their arms, throw them up to where they are parallel with the ceiling, and then let them free-fall (with my hands still holding them) until I stop them such that they don’t hit the floor. It’s easy to do with my 19-month-old daughter and not too difficult with my 5 yr old son. My 6.5 yr old son, however, is getting heavier, but that didn’t stop me from fulfilling his request for a turn. I felt a twinge in my shoulder and mid back the day I tried it. The next morning I was all out of whack and in quite a bit of pain. I knew at some point I’d have to stop things like that, I just didn’t expect it to be so soon. My plan? Don’t concede yet. Work out more. Buy some more time.

That experience got me thinking about the arms of God. Yes, His arms are mighty to save you in your times of distress. Yes, His arms will hold you tight when you need a safe place to rest. But His arms, shoulders, and back are fully capable…and patiently waiting…to throw you around in love when you move to Heaven. Imagine what that will be like. I am looking forward to being thrown several miles up and free falling back into His loving grasp. We as His children will not have to beg, “Do me next, Daddy!” He can juggle, millions upon millions at a time, so turns will not be necessary.

Maybe that scene is hard for you to imagine. After all, we have been conditioned (a clever strategy of the enemy) to view God as a deeply philosophical, grayed-haired-and-weathered-faced individual who is off in the distance somewhere and well “above” such activities. It’s a complete paradigm shift for many of us, but God really is our heavenly Daddy. When is the last time you called Him Daddy? When is the last time you got quiet before Him and simply enjoyed His Presence? He’s waiting.

Mark E. Donnelly
Author of ‘Rude Awakening: What If Everything You Thought Was Right Was Wrong?’