There are some trite phrases in Christianity that almost lose their meaning because they’re used so frequently and thoughtlessly. Kind of like saying the word “elbow” over and over until you start asking yourself, “What does that word even mean?” (Pick a random word and try it sometime; you’ll know what I’m talking about.)
But those phrases became trite because they’re rooted in deep significance—and there’s nothing like being reminded of their profound yet simple meaning. Kind of like my recent conversation with my 4-year-old daughter, Faith. (Watch the video above if you haven’t already.)
Now before you exit this post, this isn’t where I tell you how amazing and wonderful my daughter is. Parents all think their kids are extraordinary and have some measure of superhuman intelligence, athleticism or other special talent. For the most part, their kids are just normal. Instead, this is where I tell you that my daughter’s struggle with being a normal 4 year old—complete with tantrums intertwined with moments of maturity—is where I am beginning to learn what true child-like faith is all about.
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 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. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” – Matthew 18:1-5
I’m learning that child-like faith doesn’t mean I have to know all the answers or have it all figured out. It simply means that I have the ability to believe God can do something big with the small thing that I have.
The afternoon following the tornadoes that devastated the southeast, I watched footage of the storm’s fury followed by the dramatic aftermath. My daughter Faith was in awe of the storm’s power. But she’s a compassionate soul—and the images of families sifting through the remains of their personal belongings moved her. I explained to her that those people had lost everything; even the kids had lost all their toys.
That’s when she took her little mustard seed and whacked me between the eyes with it.
“If that happened to me, I’d want somebody to give me a stuffed animal to cuddle with,” she said. “Can I give those kids some of my stuffed animals, Daddy?”
I said nothing, trying to push back those proud parent tears.
Then she dropped another bomb.
“I don’t want to, but I know they need it more than me,” she said.
Then I did what any dad would do: I got on the phone and called some of my ministry friends in the Southeast to see who could help with this crazy idea. I quickly found some takers.
Now Faith doesn’t just want to give her own stuffed animals away to those children devastated by the storms. No, she wants other kids to do it, too. After the idea was hatched and shared, her 2-year-old sister who clings to Tutu and Sally like they were extra appendages began proclaiming that she was going to give those two stuffed toys away as well. Our whole church is doing it now.
I have no idea of what will become of this gesture of goodwill born out of compassion. But I do know that one dad is learning about child-like faith from the best source of all. Maybe one day God will do something big with something little in me, too.
(P.S. If you are working with families whose lives have been ruined by the storms and are interested in receiving some stuffed animals, email me and we’ll see what we can do.)