Sunday, September 20, 2009

Faith Like a Child

About a year ago, my father-in-law was telling me about the poem Hound of Heaven by Francis Thompson which he had read often growing up. I recently read it for the first time, and although I didn’t do a close read, one line stuck out to me. “All which I took from thee I did but take, Not for thy harms, But just that thou might'st seek it in My arms.” I have often found myself reflecting on that statement and recently added it to my homepage. Last weekend I mentioned it to my husband and he told me how it reflected God calling us to come to Him as children.

That got me thinking. We all know the bible verses about having faith like a child. What could I learn from children that could apply to the IF journey? Here are a few thoughts:
1. Persistence: Kids are famous for their persistence. We have all been talking with a friend and watched their child tugging at their shirt saying, “Mommy, mommy, mommy” until their mother stopped the conversation to attend to them. No doubt we did the same thing to our parents. Kids know how to get the attention of their parents. They don’t realize that it may seem rude to ask for attention over and over again. We may feel like we have already put this before God enough and that He knows what we seek without us even telling Him, but God wants us to continue to ask Him for the desires of our heart, not to bury them deep down and hope He gets back to us someday with the answer we want. Think of a child that wants a puppy. The child will think of any excuse to bring up the topic of the puppy. Anytime it comes to his mind, he will blurt it out. We can do the same.
2. Fearlessness: When we are children, we are often more daring than we are as adults. I know that I loved jumping off the high dive at the pool when I was young, but these days that would totally freak me out. And you can forget about me jumping feet first into cold water! As we age and mature, we come to understand more about the risks we face and we sometimes let fears rule us. I know that I have had to learn how to face some of my fears in this journey. I was petrified of all GYNs and had to force myself to make my first appointment just a few months before we started TTC. Now I can bet that I’ll get a physical at almost every doctor’s appointment and I’ve had to do countless ultrasounds and other procedures. Surgeries, drugs, side effects, injections, lifestyle changes. We’ve all had to face something that we were scared of and things that made us uncomfortable in this process, but we are willing to do these things to get our desired end result. We know that it will be worth any sacrifice we make today.
3. Trust: As children, we trusted that our needs would be met. We would have full tummies and warm beds. We couldn’t go out and get a job to pay for these needs – we had to rely on others to provide them for us. In the IF journey we have to learn to let go and trust that God will take care of us. If we are meant to have biological children, we will. If we are meant to adopt, we will. If we are meant for a childless life, God will help us to accept that. And throughout this whole process, He is showering us with the grace we need to handle anything that may come our way.
4. Being Out of Control: Children are often ruled by their parents. They don’t have cars. They can’t stay home by themselves. If their parents say, “we are going to the store,” the child must go. If the parent says, “no, you can’t go play at your friend’s house right now,” the child must obey. So too, we have learned that we don’t really have control over our fertility. Although we try to do everything we can to help it along, ultimately we can only do so much. We have to give in to being out of control. Sometimes our parents had to tell us no. We didn’t always understand why – we still may not understand why our parents said no to us at times. But those no’s have shaped us into who we are today, as much as the yes’ we received. Those no’s have helped make it easier for us to bear the “no” we are hearing from God right now. Hopefully, one day we will find that God wasn’t really saying no to us. He was really saying “not yet.” Only time will tell.
5. Innocence: One of the first things I think of when reading “have faith like a child” is innocence. Although we are now adults and have learned things we wish we never had to know, we still maintain innocence. Compared to God’s infinite knowledge, our knowledge is so finite. We cannot presume to understand His ways. I have often thought that I will never understand miscarriage. Even when I get to heaven, I feel like I won’t understand why God would allow this to happen. Or why God would allow the child abuser or teenager to become pregnant and not the caring adults who have the means and the love to support a child for life. But that is thinking on my terms, using my knowledge and understanding. How innocent those thoughts must seem to God.

A few final things we can learn from children, maybe God doesn’t mind if we continually ask Him, “Are we there yet?” and “Why, why, why, why, why?” And don’t forget to ask your Mother!

“He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, ‘Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.’” Matthew 18: 2-4
“And people were bringing children to him that he might touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this he became indignant and said to them, ‘Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.’ Then he embraced them and blessed them, placing his hands on them.” Mark 10:13-16

“Jesus looked at them and said, ‘For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.’" Mark 10:27
Reflection Questions
1. What does the quote from Hound of Heaven say to me?
2. Which points listed above do I identify with most? Which can I learn from the most?
3. What other things can I learn from children?

Like A Child - Jars of Clay
Dear God, surround me as I speak, the bridges that I walk across are weak
Frustrations fill the void that I can't solely bear
Dear God, don't let me fall apart, you've held me close to you
I have turned away and searched for answers I can't understand

They say that I can move the mountains
And send them crashing into the sea
They say that I can walk on water
If I would follow and believe with faith like a child

Sometimes, when I feel miles away and my eyes can't see your face
I wonder if I've grown to lose the recklessness I walked in light of you

They say that love can heal the broken
They say that hope can make you see
They say that faith can find a Savior
If you would follow and believe with faith like a child


  1. After I read this post I happened upon a video about a mother asking the child why he didn't like her.

    The little boy explained, no mom I like you, just not when you don't give me cookies!


  2. I read that poem by FT in high school but don't remember that particular line. It touches me now on so many levels. Thanks for another beautiful reflection!