Monday, August 20, 2007

Child-like Faith

Seven-year-old Luke is missing a front tooth and shifting his weight nervously from one foot to the other. His brown hair is buzz cut in perfect army fashion and his khaki shorts are pulled as high as they will go. He is shy, but excitedly stands on tiptoe for a moment and gives an affirmative nod when asked if school will start soon. Though he is speaking to me face-to-face for the first time, he has been talking to Jesus about me for a very long time. Ever since Sarah and I spoke to Bethel's Sunday school classes in June of 2006, a significant number of those children have been praying faithfully. Luke's mother told me that her son has prayed for us every day for over a year. I hardly knew what to say to one so young whose faith FAR surpasses mine and whose perseverence in prayer is something of which to take note and be humbled. Little more than an hour later, after Bethel's second service, I had a similar encounter. This time a proud father of three little girls wanted me to know about the persistent prayers of his youngest on my behalf. As Randy spoke, his little girl shyly pretended not to be listening.

What excites me the most about children praying is the knowledge that God hears and honors these young pleas. The only thing I remember praying for with such fervency at the tender age of seven was a sister. Even before my mom miraculously delivered a baby girl long past her child-bearing 'prime', I already knew that Christina would come. I had asked God for her! Why I still do not pray with such confidence I do not know. Over the years, I am afraid "maturity" and "religion" have flooded out the child-like adoration I once had for my Jesus. Life has stolen the sparkle of an intensely love-filled relationship with the Daddy who is always present, and who cares deeply. Today I want to jump back onto a pink Hot Wheels with a grape popsicle in my hand and start over. There are things I want to see again with fresh eyes... young eyes.

After having received the best education this nation can offer, Dr. Robert Coles still learned his most important lessons from children. Six-year-old Ruby Bridges was the first black student to attend Mississippi's Frantz School. While every other student boycotted the integration, Ruby bravely marched through hostile mobs escorted by federal marshalls. She sat alone, day after day, in an empty classroom. Shocked by the bravery he witnessed in one so young, Dr. Coles took the time to develop a relationship with Ruby. The following is an excerpt from the book 'Soul Survivor':

So what did Ruby do in such daunting circumstances? She prayed: for herself, that she would be strong and unafraid, and also for her enemies, that God would forgive them. "Jesus prayed that on the cross," she told Coles, as if that settled the matter: "Forgive them, because they don't know what they're doing." (pg. 98)

I want to pray like that.

No comments: