Getting to spend a lot of time with our children in this season is helping me (re)develop a child-like faith.
Yesterday we learned that our sons’ summer camp was going to be closed this year due to the virus. They had been very excited about the ability to go to this new camp, but while walking with one of my boys I asked him if he was upset by the camp being closed. His response: “I hadn’t really thought about it that much. This summer is so far away.”
I realized and remembered how as a child the days, weeks and months seemed far more abstract and further out than as an adult. Asking about summer camp is like asking a child where they want to go to college and what they want to be when they grow up.
My son reminded me that a child really does not worry about tomorrow. Why? Because they really cannot control what will happen tomorrow, from the smallest of things –like what they will eat for breakfast–to the largest of things. They truly must live in the moment.
Over the weekend, I also learned that my daughter has taken the initiative to read the entire Bible. And as we walked and talked, she shared that Leviticus was not as bad as I had made it out to be. Her open heart to the scriptures reminded me that once there was a newness to God’s word, but unfortunately after my 25 years of reading the scriptures, I can often live off that legacy rather than engage it anew each morning. I can skim it knowing how the story unfolds rather than dwell in it.
And finally, as I cleaned out my attic, I found this story I had written nearly a decade ago that reminded me of the simple and absurd generosity of a child:
Last Sunday, my daughter sat in worship for the first time, and as the offering plate passed by I slipped her a $1 bill from my own wallet to put into the plate, just as my father would do every Sunday for me. From this simple participation in worship her generous heart emerged.
Three days later, I came home from work and found a ziplock bag on the dining room table with two $20 bills and $4.38 worth of change. As Ellie explained that evening, she wanted me to take this money and “give it to the church so they can help people.”
Unprompted from any adult, Ellie spent her nap time going through her piggy bank. She had decided to give away this portion of her money to the church.
My immediate response to her was, “That is very generous of you, why don’t we sit down after dinner and let me teach you what these numbers on the dollar bills mean.” Instead of accepting her generosity, I wanted to give her an economics lesson first. I figured I needed to be the rational side of her 4 year-old irrationality.
God, however, spoke to me through her response, “No daddy, this is what I want to give to the church.” She did not want a lesson or a lecture; instead she understood that at times our response to God’s grace is irrational (and costly). Leaning into the prompting of the Holy Spirit should make us do things radically different than we should want.
It made me think of Matthew 6:3 where Jesus tells us, “when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” I felt like Ellie’s right hand trying to squash her generous spirit because it did not seem prudent to me.
Likewise, I felt like my warnings around the dryness of Leviticus could have squashed her earnest desire to read, and learn and struggle with God’s word. And my complaining spirit about the cancellation of summer camp could also harden my son’s heart.
This season of time as a family has allowed them to train me up in the way of a child-like faith that lives in the moment, seeks God’s word anew, and responds with absurd generosity.