December 1, 2014

18 ways my child embodies faith

In my prayer group this week, we took turns praying for each other and asked God to give us words and pictures to help the person we were praying for. What God revealed to each of us was healing, profound, and intense -- especially for me, which was unexpected. Prayers and deep longings that I never thought to ask for (and didn't then) were revealed and answered. Most of it is too deeply personal to share, except what the Lord had to tell me about my son.

As a toddler, right now my son perfectly embodies what it means to have faith like a child. In Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Jesus said “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Luke 18:16-17) Among His other words for me, I have been meditating on this one to try and understand it as deeply as possible.

Little children have many behaviors in common, but here I am building a list of my son's characteristics that I can see the embodiment of faith in. So far I can see 87 ways my child embodies faith:
  1. Trusting completely
  2. Open eyes
  3. Open heart
  4. Curiosity
  5. Always learning, growing, and changing
  6. Following after his parents, yearning for closeness
  7. A mix of independence and utter dependence
  8. Accepting gentle instruction and guidance
  9. Feeling safe in his parents' arms
  10. Separation anxiety
  11. Tantrums (don't we all get upset when we don't get our way?)
  12. Uninhibited nature
  13. Unquestioning love
  14. Without shame or ego
  15. Thriving in his parents' joy and approval
  16. Occasional doubt and rebellion
  17. Pouting after discipline, but always seeking restoration
  18. Loving fun and laughter
Some of the things on this list aren't shiny and pretty. But you know what? Real faith is just that. It is unique to each person. It is a relationship and a journey with no end. In a way, I envy my son for his pureness and simple beauty. I guess that in itself is a reflection of faith and the kingdom: Purity. Simplicity. Beauty.

With that in mind, what is Jesus saying when he tells us to accept the kingdom like a little child? Perhaps the way a child accepts his parents: Following. Yearning. Loving. Open. Uninhibited. Pure.