Like a Child

I grew up in Sunday School. There I learned that Jesus said some pretty cool things about children. In Mark 10:15, He says, “Anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (NIV).

And I remember learning the term “childlike faith,” by which was meant we were to trust God unquestioningly.

Fourteen years ago this month, I became a parent for the first time. Do you have children? Do you know children? Have you ever spoken to a child? Do you know what they do ALL DAY LONG?

From nearly the moment they can speak, children ask questions. Every day I hear from the mouths of my no-longer-so-little children, “Why?” And, “Would it be weird?” And “How about?” And “Can I?”

I’m beginning to think I misunderstood. I don’t think Jesus was talking about blind obedience or unwavering trust.

Instead, I think He was inviting us to ask questions. A lot of questions.

Maybe, like me, you were raised in a faith tradition that didn’t encourage questioning. Perhaps, as I did, you grew up believing that the most important thing in being a person of faith was to believe wholeheartedly, without questioning the authority of your parents, teachers, and leaders.

As a mother, that idea certainly holds its appeal. If my kids would simply believe everything I told them and obey every instruction I issued without hesitation, life would be a lot more peaceful . . . for me.

But, for my kids, who live moment to moment with questions bubbling up inside their little hearts? Not so much.

One song I love is called “Big Enough” by Chris Rice. In the chorus, he sings:

God if You’re there I wish You’d show me
And God if You care then I need You to know me
I hope You don’t mind me askin’ the questions
But I figure You’re big enough

This is the image I now have of God: big enough to handle every one of my doubts, my fears, my questions and loving enough to hear me out, no matter what I ask or feel or believe.

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For Me

DH was up for a promotion at work this week. I spent most of the last several days being excited because it seemed he was the top candidate for the job and while the hours weren’t any better, the increase in pay would have been substantial. We found out yesterday afternoon that the position went to someone else. DH was a little disappointed, but I felt crushed.

I was sad for him, but, I’m ashamed to admit, I was more sad for me. Tossing and turning overnight, I found myself chatting with God about my feelings. I realized that I’d expected Him to bless us financially through this promotion, but He hasn’t. That bothered me, but I wasn’t entirely sure why. Getting out of the shower this morning, it finally came to me. “God,” I said, “I thought this new job would mean I wouldn’t have to trust You every single month to make ends meet.”

Bingo.

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Now to our God and Father be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (Philippians 4:19-20, NASB)

My old friend Lacktrust has been visiting again. There’s a Gershwin standard she likes to sing called, “But Not for Me.” It’s a pitiful tune about how great life and love is for everybody else, but not for me. Too often, that’s what I find myself thinking as I consider God’s promises. I start to believe that He has all these great plans for everyone around me, but my life? Well, maybe it’s slipped His mind.

Father God,

I have a terribly short view of Your grace toward me. Forgive me for the arrogance of believing I’ve been singled out to miss the grace and blessings You lavish on other people, but I don’t think You’ll pour on me. Even when I can look at my own life and see Your provision. Even though there have been more months than I can count when the debit column didn’t match up to the credit column in our budget, yet we still had plenty. In spite of every way You have already blessed me, I persist in fearing that Your bounty is not meant for me.

Thank you for this continued opportunity to grow in faith and trust. Please give me eyes to see Your hand at work. Give me the heart to believe Your promises are always true, even for me!

Where Credit Is Due

My daughter is at an age where she demands a certain exactness from everyone around her. It is not acceptable to tell her it’s 3:00, when it’s actually 2:57. She also feels she deserves credit for any part of a project she’s helped complete, no matter how small. If DH thanks me for making dinner, for instance, DD will make sure everyone knows that she participated in cooking, even if all she did was shred a carrot. To my chagrin, I’ve noticed I share in this latter tendency.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9, NIV)

I don’t think of myself as a boastful person. In fact, I usually focus more on the negative things about me than the positive. But, that doesn’t keep me from craving accolades for my efforts, no matter how insignificant they are in the scheme of things. When the people around me don’t step up and acknowledge what I’ve done, I get cranky. And when time passes and still no one remarks on my contribution, I start getting angry. The silly thing is, often, my family and friends appreciate whatever I did, they just didn’t make the big deal out of it I was hoping for.

God,

You saw this coming from miles away and stopped it all in its tracks. You shower Your grace on us when we have done nothing to deserve it. Not only that, but You provide the faith we need to believe Your promises and receive Your blessings. You made sure there was no doubt, no possible way I could imagine that I’m doing this on my own.

My first response, honestly, is annoyance. God, I want to do it! Why don’t You let me? Why is it always all about You? And yet, when I stop to consider, I realize: this is not Your way to thwart my abilities and talent, but to provide for me what I could never manage on my own.

Your desire is to give me these gifts that I could never earn for myself, not if I spent my whole life trying. You have better dreams for me than to spend my days trying to curry favor. You have already given it to me, more than I would ever have dared ask.

Thank You for this incredible generosity, for Your grace and faith and favor. Thank You for not letting anything, even me, get in the way of Your incredible plans. Help me to remember that even though You don’t need me, You want me. You invite me to participate in Your adventure.

And thanks for giving me all I need to complete the work You call me to do. Even when I forget to acknowledge You.