Trust. Something we have to do as children, but something that is so easily destroyed as life unveils itself to be different from what we imagined it to be in childhood. More than that, what is so precious in a child, trust, is a liability for a teenager and even more so for an adult. When an adult is described as “childlike,” it’s often either demeaning or spoken with a sense of concern about how poorly such an adult might make it or succeed in the big bad world. Yet this quality of trust is what is most needed to “successfully” navigate a life of faith.
I remember having arguments as a teenager with the leaders of my small group meeting when they tried to tell me that, as parents, what they wanted from their kids was for them to grow up and become independent adults, and not to have some perpetual “childhood.” So if this is what one needs to become an adult, why does it seem to fly in the face of what’s asked of one who wants a close relationship with God: the simple trust of a child.
I don’t know if there’s an answer to these contradictory ideas. I do know that part of the scriptural call for child-like trust comes as a call against arrogant self-sufficiency or a life divorced from communion with God. For me, I find that I’ve been given so much already, that the idea of just sitting in my poopy-diapers of a life waiting for the Creator of the Universe to wipe my butt dishonors what He’s already done for me. I don’t assume that I have all the answers or that I have all the means to “make it happen” within myself but I also feel like the call on my life is not to sit in some spiritual high-chair waiting to be fed like a newborn.
I guess it comes down to having that essential communion with our Heavenly Father that is simultaneously humbling and terrifying while also being affirming and enriching. As with many or most things, it is not one thing but a combination of seemingly contradictory things. Thus, one is foolish if one thinks one has complete control or can even manage complete control of ones life. But equally wrong-headed is the thought that we are perpetual helpless newborns, capable of nothing more that eating, shitting, sleeping and lots of crying. I know my own maturation is entirely uneven and often more regressive than progressive. But even my circuitous spiritual development has led me, after a fashion, forward. The Lord has invested too much in me for it to be otherwise. If I have been properly trained and discipled than I do the will of our Heavenly Father without requiring that I am little more some kind of spiritual marionette. JBB