Faith Like a Child

I can’t get anything by Caleb; he is too bright.  Always asking questions, he stores away the answers in his computer of a mind, a mind that does not forget.  I have to make sure I answer Caleb truthfully and carefully because, chances are, we will come back to our conversation again someday.

When Caleb asked me how his baby sister got in my tummy, I was happy to give him just enough information that he needed without the extra details that his three-year-old mind at the time didn’t need to explore.

“Mommy and Daddy wanted and prayed for a baby, so God put her there.”

That answer seemed to suffice.  However, Caleb did not find that answer sufficient for how his sister came out of my tummy.

“God got her out.”

“But HOW?”

“Umm…I’m not exactly sure how; the doctor did something…”

“But you were THERE!!!”

“Yes, but I had my eyes closed.  Why don’t you ask your father when he gets home?  He was there, too.  Maybe his eyes were open.”

And we moved on from that conversation, Caleb satisfied for the moment knowing that he could ask his daddy again, later. I felt a little guilty because I never wanted to lie to my son (yes, my eyes were closed for part of the process, but I have a pretty good idea of how each of my children emerged!) or pass all the responsibility for educating him onto my husband.  The truth is I just wasn’t prepared for that question, yet, so I didn’t know how to answer.

There have been other times that I haven’t been prepared for how to answer Caleb, but I knew the question was too important to find a benign answer or wait until Daddy came home.

“How did Jesus make people when he was here?”

We had just finished reading a story about Jesus in Hannah Grace’s children’s Bible when Caleb asked this question.

“I’m really not sure how Jesus makes people. He’s God and can do anything.”

I started to answer, fumbling along, wondering again how much detail Caleb would need to be happy.  I really didn’t want to give a sex talk, yet, but Caleb started to shake his head, furrowed his brow, indicating I was heading down the wrong path.

“No.  When he was here, how did he make people?”

I looked at him for a minute, and then it hit me what he was really asking.

“You mean, because Jesus wasn’t in heaven, he was on Earth, how was he able to make people?”

Yes.”

Oh, brother.  Caleb was essentially asking me about the Trinity.  I was beginning to think the sex talk would have been a little more straightforward, and nervousness began to grip me.  I didn’t even understand the Trinity–it’s one of the mysteries of the Christian faith–so how would I explain something so complex in language that a three-year-old could digest?

What if I actually said something heretical when trying to explain this concept to Caleb?  What if I influenced Caleb to believe something incorrect? Or worse, what if Caleb thought everything I was trying to explain just sounded crazy, and he didn’t want to believe?

I had this same fear when Caleb asked me about the crucifixion earlier in the year.  Jesus dying, Jesus rising from the dead, an angel appearing to the women–how could I expect Caleb to believe the things that I believed when they sounded so outlandish?

And I remembered two verses: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate'” (I Corinthians 1: 18-19).  Yes, the message can sound foolish, far-fetched to our human minds, but that doesn’t make it any less true.

And then God comforted me: “But Jesus called the children to him and said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it'” (Luke 18: 16-17). Caleb had everything he needed to believe; he had the innocence and faith that we adults sometimes lose.

Having faith like a child doesn’t mean becoming unintelligent; God created the little mind that is always working in Caleb and wants it to grow. Instead, having this faith means learning how to trust.  Caleb could believe what I was trying to teach him because he trusts me, that I love him and will teach him what is right.  Likewise, I can have faith in God because of what I trust about His character–He is good, He is love, He is holy.  As Caleb grows and learns about the character of God, he will no longer need to rely on his faith in me to believe; he will develop his own faith in God.

More important than the doctrine I try to teach is the life I actually live.  And while our conversations are important, Caleb will learn more from my example. Am I loving as God commanded,  serving others before myself, trying to model the life of Jesus and follow His will?  These questions are the ones that I need to know how to answer. My hope is that if I can answer them in the affirmative, Caleb won’t find having faith like a child quite as difficult when he’s an adult.

52 thoughts on “Faith Like a Child

  1. My children ask these tough questions all the time. I always do my best to answer them in a manner that is truthful and appropriate for their age. I find this post very comforting – that even with the tough questions they have the ability to 'get it.'

    Beautifully written, Jennifer!

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  2. He sounds a lot like Sarah. We've had a few of those deep conversations as well. She especially loves to drill Jennifer about how babies are born. I know exactly what you're talking about. 🙂 Happy Anniversary as well!! Take care and I hope you and Matt have a great day!

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  3. This is wonderful. I’m always amazed at how you are able to write so well about ” Everything.” Now i’m curious as to how you finished your talk with Caleb. He definitely has an inquiring mind and when that little brain starts thinking, you can see his whole face changes.

    Max is starting to analyze and just about everthing is followed with “why, Mimi, why?” I’ll tell him to call Caleb.

    Love ♥ Mom

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  4. Maybe not fair to him, but you can use Caleb as a trial run for explaining all these confusing concepts because you'll have to do it a few more times with your younger children.

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