This Year: A Simpler, More Authentic Faith

2 Jan

I love the simplicity of a dog’s life.

Think about it. All they care about is food,  affection, someone to chase and a soft couch. And maybe the freedom to bark.

I think my dog might be praying . . .

Dear God:

  • Can you make my master give me more turkey and less dressing?YorkshireTerrier_DearGod_Pixabay
  • Is it OK if I kiss my human after I chew on his underwear?
  • In heaven, will I have to apologize to the mailman… and the trash collector … and all the others I’ve chased?
  • When I get up there, can I sit on your couch? Or is it off limits too?
  • If I bark like crazy and nobody hears me, am I still considered a “bad dog”? (1)

Yes … a dog’s life is so simple. Actually, our lives could be too, I think.

Confucius say“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”

I’m one of those people who complicates things in the midst of simplifying them.

Ask me to clean off a shelf and I’ll make labels and add “separators” and categorize everything. Ask me to purge a closet and I’ll do that, but I’ll also add dividers between sleeveless, short-sleeved and long-sleeved blouses … and … you get the idea.

I’m never satisfied with doing “just enough” or “bottom line.” I’ve always got to add something.

Actually, that works pretty well for me most of the time. At least, it keeps me organized.

ChildlikeFaith_MachenQuote_PixabayGraphic_LOLwithGod-blogBut I’m learning an important lesson about faith.

Whenever I try to add anything to faith, it complicates and even diminishes what could be a beautifully simple thing.

American Presbyterian theologian John Gresham Machen wrote:

“The more we know of God, the more unreservedly we will trust Him; the greater our progress in theology, the simpler and more child-like will be our faith.” (2)

Better yet, Jesus said, “… ‘Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3-4, ESV).

Oh, the simple, humble faith of a little child.

I read about two little girls, playmates, who were counting their pennies.

One girl said, “I have five pennies.”

The other bragged, “I have ten.”

“No,” the first little girl corrected, “You only have five pennies too.”

“But,” the second child quickly noted, “My father said when he comes home tonight, he’s going to give me five more pennies. So I really have ten cents.” (3)

The little girl’s faith was all the proof she needed, though she did not yet have what she hoped for. Why? She believed her father!

Faith is the substance–the confidence–of things we’ve hoped for. Faith gives us assurance or conviction about things we cannot yet see. (Hebrews 11:1). The question is, do we believe our Father in heaven?

There’s a huge difference between childish (immature, unreflective) faith, and child-like faith that says, “I believe and trust my ‘Abba’ (Daddy).” Our faith, to appear authentic to a watching world, must express itself in whole-hearted, whole-minded confidence in the One who loves and cares for us.

We can ask questions of our Father–in fact, He invites all humble inquiries. Christians are not brain-dead zombies. But there is no fear of the unknown when we still have unanswered questions. We have the confidence that what we cannot know, our Father already knows. We can walk on in child-like faith, leaning on God’s wisdom and purposes.

Frank J. Exley wrote a poem that blesses me whenever I am tempted to complicate this simple faith (emphasis mine):

Child of My love, fear not the unknown morrow,
Dread not the new demand life makes of thee;
Thy ignorance doth hold no cause for sorrow
Since what thou knowest not is known to Me.

Thou canst not see today the hidden meaning
Of My command, but thou the light shalt gain;
Walk on in faith, upon My promise leaning,
And as thou goest all shall be made plain.

One step thou sayest—then go forward boldly,
One step is far enough for faith to see;
Take that, and thy next duty shall be told thee,
For step by step thy Lord is leading thee.

Stand not in fear, thy adversaries counting,
Dare every peril, save to disobey;
Thou shalt march on, all obstacles surmounting,
For I, the Strong, will open up the way.

Wherefore go gladly to the task assigned thee;
Having My promise, needing nothing more
Than just to know, where’er the future find thee,
In all thy journeying I go before. (4)

Do you have this kind of simple, authentic faith as you face uncertain days?

– Dawn

(1) Adapted from http://danesonline.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-30718.html

 (2) Machen quote.

(3) Adapted from an illustration:  Otterbein Teacher–Encyclopedia of Illustrations, #3352.

(4) “Step by Step” by Frank J. Exley, Bible Truth Publishers.

Graphics adapted from photos at Pixabay.

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