Estimated reading time: 5 minutes:-)
Do you know, sometimes I’m still scared.
If I let my thoughts wander too far, this fear grips me that just makes me want to cry.
I’m afraid of losing my graduation. I’m scared of losing my soccer season and my friends for months on end. One hundred days of shutdown again is a long time. I’m scared of losing my job and finishing school without goodbyes, without hugs or tears or closure or smiles. I’m scared of finishing high school staring at a screen, or watching my closest friends, brothers and sisters to me, from afar as they accept their diplomas.
I’m scared of never standing in a classroom again. I’m scared of church shutting down and sitting in my room, trying to worship God through a computer screen and bleary eyes.
And I know a lot of this is selfish, to want things to stay open only because I love them. But I also know a lot of people feel like this. I know I’m not alone.
I guess what I’m saying is, without God, I don’t think I could do a second shutdown. I don’t think my mental health could maintain composure without God. I say without God because by his strength, I know I can get through anything.
But this fear that grips me sometimes, it spawns from unknowns. It spawns from hypotheticals about the presidency and control and unrest.
My dad is convinced Trump will pull through as God’s plan, and I wish I had his confidence. But I think God has called me to have confidence in his provision during this season, even though it’s hard to place things I care about so much—soccer and school and worship class and church and youth group—into his hands fully.
And it’s been on my mind lately, how to have childlike faith. We hear the phrase so often: “have childlike faith!” But what does it mean?
I’m turning eighteen in 8 days. In 8 days, I will be a legal adult. It’s crazy for me to believe, and I don’t think I’ll change much when the clock strikes midnight on January fourth, but it still feels weird to be an adult.
I don’t want to grow up (as I’ve said before;), but I’ve been thinking what ‘growing up’ means when it has to do with faith. Yes, I’m becoming an adult. Yes, I’m gathering new responsibilities, new honors, new opportunities. But how can I maintain a childlike faith as I grow?
Matthew 18:2-4 says, “He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.'”
I thought about it, asked a few people what it means to have childlike faith. Here’s what I came up with. And as you read this list, ask yourself: in the times of fear, when I’m nervous about the future, and hope seems far off, how can I trust the God of the universe, the God who saved me, the God who loves me and knows me fully? How can I place my life and lifestyle and relationships and passions and hopes and burdens and full self into his hands? How can I trust his faithfulness?
Here are some qualities of childlike faith:
Go back to when you were a little kid. Did you dad ever, on a snowy night, fight through the storm as he was driving? And were you ever scared?
I remember countless times when my dad drove through a snow storm in a car not necessarily ideal for snow with me in the back seat. The weather would be bad, my dad’s eyes laser focused on the road. And my dad is a very imperfect driver, as we all are.
But simply because he was my dad, I was never afraid in those storms. I would always look out my window in awe of the beautiful snow and just watch with wide eyes. I knew my dad would get me home safe. I really didn’t have much a reason to, but I believed he would. And he’s brought me home safe every time.
Faith isn’t blind, but childlike faith is confident even in hopeless situations. I’ve had to remind myself of this all year. When things look bleak, and they have looked bleak, my God will prevail no matter what, because he is simply God.
Remember looking out the window at the dangerous storm and just gaping in awe at how beautiful it was?
My little siblings get excited over a tiny toy made of cheap plastic bought for five dollars. Their eyes widen at the sight of Christmas lights, the sight of a funny shaped cloud, the sight of the ocean. Everything is wonderful to them. And I think seeing the world like this is part of having childlike faith.
Sometimes I fail to see God’s daily blessings because I’m so focused on the trials in my life at the moment. The small issues take my attention, and the little miracles are forgotten. I pray to avoid this at all costs.
Do you know what God has already done for you? Jesus came to us, in our filth, and sacrificed his life to save us from our sins. He bore our burdens and blessed us with salvation in him. And not only that, but he walks beside you every day. He provides for you. He loves you. He brought victory. And he will do it again.
And this is reason to stand in awe of everything he’s already done for us. It’s incredible enough seeing what he’s done, but knowing he will work again is even more incredible.
As a kid, I never doubted adults because they were adults. I believed what they said because they were adults. I respected them because they were adults. And I think we should have the same attitude towards God, if we truly believe he is God.
Obviously, this worldly example is flawed because not all adults are good. But our God is good, and not just good, but great. Loving. Merciful. Life-giving. Forgiving. Omnipresent. Omnipotent. Powerful. Here.
And simply because God is God and we are not, we should trust his plan above our own. I notice the fear start to creep in when I fail to remember God’s power—how he is more powerful than I can even imagine. More powerful than me. But when I remember: “God is omnipotent. He knows what he’s doing. I can trust him,” that fear starts to melt.
On the opposite spectrum, kids also ask a boatload of questions. They are curious about everything, and being willing to keep learning like a child is part of humility, too. It’s easy to believe we have it all figured out, we know what we’re doing, when in reality, we absolutely don’t. We don’t know everything, so keep learning! Keep asking questions and staying curious and lively in your faith.
I want to end with an element of childlike faith I think we especially need this year. Kids have so much joy. Sure, sometimes they’ll throw massive temper tantrums about the color of their plate or the fact that their sock is wrinkled; that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the moments when the world seems to be crashing down around them and they can have the best time of their lives at the park.
I used to say, “this was the best day ever!” quite often as a kid. Even when my family was in financial instability or my mom was going through a miscarriage, I still found joy every day. Sometimes that’s hard as an adult. But I think we are called to have this disposition to life.
Some studies claim kids laugh 300 times a day while adults only laugh 17 times a day, on average. Obviously, these numbers could fluctuate based on situation and personality, but they convey a point. Fully trusting God and not worrying about what’s to come like a child enables us to have a joyful outlook on life and everything God has in store. If he is always in control, our worry can be replaced with joy.
We are children of God. God knows we can’t have everything figured out. God knows we get scared sometimes. God knows we are utterly helpless without him. So lean into that identity, the identity of a child, and let your life be guided by childlike trust, humility, wonder, and joy.