Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
I like the story of a father who decided one night to take his wife and kids to a good restaurant for dinner. Before they ate, the six-year-old son prayed out loud, Thank you, God, for the food. And I would even thank you more if mum got us some ice cream.
There was quite a bit of laughter around the table—everybody smiled, except one grumpy lady who was indignant: That’s what’s wrong with this country. Kids today don’t even know how to pray. Fancy asking God for ice cream. The six-year-old burst into tears and just then an elderly man walked by, gave him a wink and whispered to him, Too bad she never asked for ice cream. A little ice cream is good for the soul sometimes.
When his desert came, the young boy picked up his sundae and walked to the lady’s table and put it on the table in front of her. He smiled and said, This is for you. Ice cream is good for the soul sometimes, and my soul is good already.
A delightful story, don’t you agree? The faith of a child is very powerful. And has many lessons for us who are older.
Adults forget childlike trust
The trouble with us adults is this. As we grow out of childhood we become self-sufficient. We lose the simplicity and wonder of childhood—our simple trust in God becomes hazy. Life becomes complex and difficult. We lose our simple trust in God. Children have delightful qualities: a tender conscience, openness about their feelings, creativity, imagination, joy, trust, easy forgiveness, always thinking the best about life and people—and a willingness to learn and grow.
But adults lose so much and we become disillusioned, angry, carry grudges, we lose out hopes, become jaded and disinterested. We allow personal worries to come and overtake us. If you saw the movie Peter Pan that came out in the early 90s with Robin Williams playing the role of Peter Pan, you will know that in the remake of this Disney classic, Peter Pan (Robin Williams) had left Never Never Land and had grown up. He was married with two children and was burdened by the cares of the world—in this case his job.
When Captain Hook stole his kids and took them to Never Never Land in order to get him to return for a final battle, Peter Pan was totally out of sorts as he had forgotten what it was like to be a child with an imagination. However, the longer he was there, the more he became more childlike. By the end, he remembered what it meant to be ‘like a child’ even though he was a grownup.
Some people think it’s wrong to have a childlike faith. They say, Yes, but, you have to question and challenge everything. You can’t accept everything that life throws at you. Let me try and explain. You probably know that children ask lots of questions. They’re curious about everything. The constant barrage of questions from a two-year-old can be difficult for any mother to handle. Kids want explanations—and having a childlike faith does not mean not asking questions.
It’s OK to ask questions
Of course it’s OK to ask questions, and seek the right answers. That’s all about being wise. Everybody’s beliefs do not all stay the same throughout all of life. Instead, everybody matures and grows in what they think and believe. This is normal, natural, and just as God intended. Just as children grow and mature, so also does faith. This is the way God made humans, and this is the way God made faith.
In Matthew’s gospel, we see one day the disciples came to Jesus and asked who would be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. He called a child to stand near him. And then Jesus said, “I promise you this. If you don’t change and become like a child, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. But if you are humble as this child, you are the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 18:2-4).
One of the things that drew people to Jesus was his child- likeness. He was not childish, but he possessed an awe and wonder for the world in which he lived, and his hope for humanity. And this awe was contagious. People who saw how Jesus lived began to see how life should be lived. Jesus revealed how God intended life to be lived.
Jesus taught that if you want to experience God’s life in this life—the kingdom of heaven—then you need to become like a little child once again. God is calling you to a greater lifestyle of childlike faith. He is calling you to place your trust in him alone for your finances, relationships, future, past, and present.
One of the wonderful things about being a follower of Jesus is that there is nothing wrong with being childlike. In fact childlike faith is something Jesus looks for and delights in. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. I am not referring to a childish faith—but a childlike faith.