Kevin’s Conversations: Childlike Faith
This past weekend while in the car, I put on a CD that I probably hadn’t listened to for at least a couple years. A favorite of mine from my college days, I was reminded while listening that I still quite liked that album. Now we all have our different tastes in music, but during my teenage years and into my 20’s I liked a good bit of Contemporary Christian Music (CCM). I can already see the recoils through the computer screen as CCM is a favorite punching bag here at this blog community, including taking a beating just last week.
Over the past 10 to 15 years, I have lost a lot of interest in the CCM scene, with a good many of the reasons being things that are railed against here – such as the general overall superficiality of the music and the restriction in the industry to more or less keep everything light and positive and to avoid dealing in any kind of depth with issues that have any modicum of darkness, disturbance, complexity, or controversy. You can tack on your additional complaints of the CCM music and industry. But I also have never been a big music person to begin with, so as other things have come about to fill up my life, music has been one of the things that has naturally gotten pushed out. Thus for me, it’s not all about disappointment in the music.
Now CCM is an odd duck that has always had an awkward dance incorporating being Christian and being music and being an industry, that also has occasionally crossed over into the “secular” scene but has mostly kept to itself. While the music started out more organically, it has evolved to its very commercialized and formulated state today, still with it’s many supporters but also many detractors. I won’t expound much further because I lack the depth of knowledge and insight on the subject held by others who could speak much more fully. But I will say this, for as much flack as CCM receives and many times justifiably so, God has certainly had His hand in using the music for His good purposes.
So… that CD I put on in the car was Jars of Clay’s self-titled debut album and on it is a song titled, “Like a Child”. It is a cry of desire to regain the faith of a child. Now I’m sure that if some read through all the lyrics on the song, they could find reason to nitpick at some kind of theological shortcoming or inaccuracy that they see. But I wasn’t listening to gain some profound understanding from a pristine theological treatise. I was listening because I like the music.
And in that music that I took a liking to and still do appreciate, I was struck and encouraged once again by the image of the faith of a child. While I have plenty of shortcomings and challenges in life, questioning or doubting my faith has never been something with which I have struggled. With the exceptions of those brief moments in time as a child when I repeated the “Sinner’s Prayer” just to make sure, I have always felt assured in my faith and in a God who is who He says He is. Yet despite my substantial assurance, there seems to a qualitative difference between it and that simple yet complete, unadulterated, fully trusting faith of a child. Where there is trust without a hint of doubt or concern or qualification or a need to reason things out.
I look at my two elementary aged daughters and how they just trust in Jesus. They may get quizzical looks when trying to explain something like the Trinity to them (not that we understand it much better), but they don’t need to understand it all to believe…… they just do. There is no jadedness of any sort that God isn’t going to provide or concerns about prayers that might appear to go unanswered. They just continue to have a pure and innocent faith.
Now these things will change as they mature. They won’t continue to just take things at face value because Mom or Dad or the Sunday School teacher told them so. I also know that it’s not the case that every child has a faith like this in the first place, but I do think it is a blessing when they can experience such, as we are called to receive the kingdom of God like a child. With this childlike faith that is humble and free from burden.
As my daughters grow older, God-willing they continue in their faith and their faith will become more their own and will grow and deepen and broaden through whatever their learning and experiences. As they grow in wisdom and knowledge, hopefully they will come to love and trust God even more with their minds. But they will also lose that innocent childlike faith, just like the rest of us. They may begin to doubt that God’s going to answer their prayers because there seemingly have been a bunch he hasn’t. They may wonder if He really will provide for all their needs. They will see the hypocriticalness in Dad and Mom and church leaders and may wonder how true this God is that they speak of. They may get caught up in the minutiae of theological argument and gymnastics and lose focus of the forest amongst all the trees. They may take in all the tragedies and evil in this world and wonder how a good God can allow for such. They may get caught up in the worries of life. They may do all this while still remaining solidly in the faith. Even so, they will lose that element of childlike faith they once had.
“They say that I can move the mountains
And send them falling to the sea
They say that I can walk on water
If I would follow and believe
With faith like a child”
What mountains may God be wanting us to move? When might He want us walking on water? And how often do we fail to do these things because while we believe, we don’t believe?
“Lord I believe. Help my unbelief!”
Maybe I’m off base on how I view this childlike faith. But to me, there is a pureness and specialness about it that we lose as we approach adulthood. And it is oh so hard to get back. Nonetheless, while listening to Jars of Clay this past weekend I was encouraged to fall back on that simple faith. To not get caught up in having to figure it all out and know all the answers. To not focus on all the reasons why I think something shouldn’t or might not or can’t happen, but instead focus on the fact if God wants it to happen, well then He certainly can make it happen. And to recognize, but not dwell on the hypocrisy of His followers, myself included, and instead dwell on our Creator and Savior who is wholly and completely trustworthy. Worthy to be trusted with faith like a child.