I want to share a story today...
This past weekend, I spent my Sunday afternoon with a family that has been dear friends to my family. The couple brought their two sons, both of which are middle school aged. While life is a miracle in itself for anyone, the fact that one of the two sons was there after all that he has gone through astonished me.
Almost 11 years ago, the sweet couple was told that one of their two sons, Daniel, would not live to be born. The doctors suggested aborting the child; yet, Steve and Stacy remained faithful. The doctors then warned them that if the child were to miraculously live through the birth, he would most likely pass away shortly after. Steve and Stacy were also told that if he were to survive the birth and the days following, it would be a purposeless life in which the child could not talk, walk, laugh, or breathe on his own. The doctors acted as if Daniel would be a waste of life. However, to the doctors' surprise, God had a different plan in mind for little Daniel. Not only did Daniel survive the birth and the days following the birth, but Daniel has been living since. There is life in his bones! Daniel does not just talk, laugh, and walk...he plays sports, goes to school, and is an incredible blessing to many people. A little over 11 years since the miracle child's testimony began, I was playing basketball with Daniel. After playing basketball, Daniel drove my dad and I around on the cart through the trails on the ranch. Daniel was laughing, talking, running around, and having a blast. Daniel had purpose, and still does today. However, that's not where the blessing ends.
As much as Daniel has overcome physically, I am more amazed at Daniel's faith. While playing a game of one-on-one basketball, Daniel paused a moment and asked me a simple question. Before he posed the question, he was telling me about his favorite professional wrestler. Today, most people are inspired by Ray Lewis' motivational speeches or LeBron James' jumpshot. Daniel was impressed by the wrestler's moves, yet he got most excited when he started to talk about the wrestler's faith. He shared how the wrestler is a Christian and how he talks about God and makes a name for Christ in our world. Then, he posed the question. Daniel asked me, "Are you a Christian like him?" I smiled and responded, "Yes, buddy. I am!" Daniel's response following my answer is what truly inspired me to write this post. Once I told him that I was a Christian, Daniel began to fist-pump, jump around, and shout, "Yes! All right! Awesome!" I smiled even bigger, high-fived him, and then realized..where is this kind of celebratory faith today?
Too often, we complicate things. We try to be religious. We try to be politically correct. What happened to that child-like faith that Jesus spoke about in Matthew 18?
"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."
When asked who the greatest is in the kingdom of heaven, Jesus responded with a glimpse of his glory by placing a child before them. Not a prophet, not a king, not an athlete, not a politician, but a child. Why a child? Matthew Henry's commentary gives insight to this passage where it is written, "Children, when very young, do not desire authority, do not regard outward distinctions, are free from malice, are teachable, and willingly dependent on their parents. It is true that they soon begin to show other dispositions, and other ideas are taught them at an early age; but these are marks of childhood, and render them proper emblems of the lowly minds of true Christians. Surely we need to be daily renewed in the spirit of our minds, that we may become simple and humble, as little children, and willing to be the least of all." Children are simple, teachable, and willing to be kids. They aren't searching for fame, fortune, or power. They just want to be kids! They want to have fun, and to live life to the fullest. This convicts me. I find myself asking, "What happened to THAT lifestyle?" I feel so caught up with school, soccer, and other activities that I don't have time to be a kid. I just don't have time for simple faith. Wait...don't have time for simple faith? I've been getting it all wrong. By complicating things, trying to be super religious and super educated, I have neglected a simple child-like faith. I think it's time I get back to focusing on living with that child-like faith. I think it's time I live simply, humbly, and willing to be the least.
How about you? Are you ready to get back to being a kid again?
Daniel reminded me of this celebratory, child-like faith. He reminded me what it was like to be a kid again. Life isn't about being the best theologian, athlete, student, son, brother, friend (and so on)...it's about being a child of our Heavenly Father. God loves His children! Have you ever wondered why the New Testament constantly relates to Christians as "children of God" instead of "religious followers of God"? The Bible is not just a book of moral codes and principles. God is not just a judge. Jesus was not just a teacher. Likewise, we are not just religious, rule-followers. We are called to be children of God. Simple, humble, and willing, children of God.
Psalm 71:5-6, "For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth. Upon you I have leaned from before my birth; you are he who took me from my mother's womb. My praise is continually of you."