Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Faith of a Child

Little Norton grew up in the country. When he was about eight or nine years old, he and his father Jack, went to work in a field that was about an hour's walk away from home. Upon reaching the field, Norton's father exclaimed, "I can't find the main tool I intended to use, and I don't want to waste this day." "I'm going to have to go back home and get it from the tool shed." Realizing that the tool was indeed at home, Jack resolved to go quickly. He would not take Norton with him, as the distance was too great, and Norton would slow him down. Besides, Jack reasoned, " the field house is safe, there is nothing inside that could harm Norton, and he'll
be concealed from any curious onlooker." Explaining to Norton what he was about to do, Jack assured his son that he would be back within about one hour and forty-five minutes.

Upon returning home, Jack looked in the tool shed, but the tool was not there. Frustrated, he looked in the yard, in the garage and finally in the house. At last he found it, and set out to return to the field. Meanwhile, Norton wondered what happened to his dad, "it sure seems like a long time since my dad's been gone --I sure hope he comes back soon," he thought. But despite these thoughts, Norton did not become anxious, or worried. He just kept himself amused in the field house. Sometime later, about three hours or so, Norton finally saw his dad walking toward the field house, and calling his name, “Norton, Norton, I'm back." Norton ran to the door to meet his dad. Happy his son was all right, Jack apologized for being delayed, and asked, “were you OK while I was gone?” To which Norton calmly replied, “Yes, dad, why do you ask?” Jack answered, “I was concerned that you might have thought that I left you.” Looking up at his dad, Norton replied with a puzzled look, “Dad, you said you coming back and I believed you; why would I have worried?” Humbled by Norton’s implicit trust in him, Jack smiled to himself, and reaching out, tousled Norton's hair, and said, “Come on Norton, let’s get to work, we have a lot to do, and we're behind.” That night as Jack reflected on his son’s words, he thought to himself, “Norton believed I'd be right back this morning, simply because I said so -- what implicit trust; Lord, do I trust you as much as Norton trusts me?” "Is this what you mean when you say that we are to have the faith of a little child?” And so the question comes to us: Do we trust God implicitly, as the child -- Norton, trusted his dad?

Biblically speaking, what is the Faith of a child? It is implicit trust and belief in Jesus and His Word. And implicit means: having no doubts or reservations; unquestioning. This type of Faith is not a cold and calculating trust, which intellectually ascents that a set of facts is true. For Faith although it involves intellectual belief, is at best, a heart matter. The heart must first be softened to believe. You see, in our story, Norton implicitly believed his dad's words to him, precisely because his dad had always kept his word. Trust is therefore an important part of faith. Trust that the person who has promised you this or that means you well, and in the case of God, will do exceedingly, abundantly above all you could ask or think.

Unreserved trust and belief in Christ and His Word grows as it is used in the small decisions we make daily. Stimulated by hearing the Word, the mind is cleansed from the selfishness, and self-concern in which it is continually enshrouded. Thus stripped of it's impurities, the mind is enabled -- by the flowing power of the Holy Spirit through it, to discern right from wrong, and the narrow way from the broad way which leads to destruction. According to Hebrews chapter 11, Paul says that not only is Faith the means of seeing the unseen, it is also the means of experiencing the things one has hoped for. For if a man does not hope, then why does he wait? Obviously then, waiting and hoping are also part of the faith journey. Now the un-childlike mind -- the acquisitive, impatient mind -- is not content to wait, it wants the object of its desire immediately, and will do whatever is within its power to obtain the coveted thing.

Looking to Jesus is such a simple remedy, that we by-pass it in favor of more sophisticated means. After all, who of us wants to look up at the bronzed cross to see the brass serpent hanging there -- and yet if we implicitly trust Him, we'll look and live. Yes, Faith is needed to believe that the thing, which we human beings could not possibly do, God has already done. Implicitly trusting the Saviour not only for salvation from the curse of sin, but from Sin itself, awakens within the heart of the believer gratitude and joy. For such a believer, there is no carefully hidden reservation of the heart, no rationalizing away the Word, no conscious sin.

Jesus describes His kingdom as composed of such believers as this. Hear Him in Mark 10:13-15--

Mark 10: 13 And they brought young children to Him, that He should touch
them: and His disciples rebuked those that brought them.
Mark 10:14 But when Jesus saw it, He was much displeased, and said unto
them, Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not:
for of such is the kingdom of God.
Mark 10:15 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom
of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.

In His sojourn here on earth, Jesus Himself trusted the Father implicitly. Early in the morning He submitted His will to the Father, and without doubting He set out to be guided by the Father’s will. Even on the Cross Christ trusted His Father implicitly. We can see in the scripture that although He saw His Father turn away from Him, although He felt abandoned and cried out, “… with a loud voice, ... Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46), yet He still trusted His Father. For soon after that, “… Jesus cried with a loud voice, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, He gave up the ghost.” (Luke 23:46). How could it be that Jesus commended His spirit to the One who forsook Him? Sister White answers this question in Desire of Ages--

Amid the awful darkness, apparently forsaken of God, Christ had drained
the last dregs in the cup of human woe. In those dreadful hours He had
relied upon the evidence of His Father's acceptance heretofore given Him.
He was acquainted with the character of His Father; He understood His
justice, His mercy, and His great love. By faith He rested in Him whom it
had ever been His joy to obey. And as in submission He committed Himself
to God, the sense of the loss of His Father's favor was withdrawn. By
faith, Christ was victor. (Desire of Ages, page 756.)

The childlike faith, which enabled Christ to come through the trials of His 33 years, is to be ours for the asking. As we permit the Word to soften our hearts, cleanse our minds and renew our souls, the indwelling Holy Spirit is given free reign within us, and the faith of Jesus becomes our faith. United with the Godhead, our circumstances and particular trials are no longer our focus. How we feel, and what others think of us becomes secondary to the Word of God in which we become immersed. It was Christ's habit to rise early in the day, to submerge Himself in the Father's presence. In the early morning, our Father is calling our names to come into His presence. This was Christ's way of abiding. Will it be yours too?

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