Faith like a Child

I want to believe like Lizzy believes.  I want childlike faith.

She’s obsessed with “hearts” right now.  Every electronic device in the house has been repurposed as a stethoscope (daddy is proud, of course). The phone, my iPod, the thermometer—all get placed upon our chests.  Lizzy holds the item against us and says “heart.”

She was holding the thermometer to my chest while I was changing her diaper, and I figured that since she knows what a heart is, she might be ready to talk about what it means, its metaphorical meaning of love and compassion.  (You’ve got to know that the literature instructor in me is anxious to teach her about metaphor.)

After she pointed to my “heart,” I told her that Jesus lives there.  And she didn’t look shocked in the slightest.

I just told her that the guy in her picture Bibles, who is at once a baby and also a grown man, is living inside my chest.  He’s also the guy that died but is also alive.  This wasn’t a problem for her.

“Alright,” she said.

That was it.  Jesus is in my heart.  If you ask her where Jesus is, she’ll point to mommy’s heart.

What a privilege it is for me to share these important truths with my daughter.  If only I could so readily accept Truth.

With Lizzy’s faith, I would read that God works out all things for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28), and I’d say “alright.” Meaning, I wouldn’t freak out so much when the dinner I prepared crashes to the floor, where its container shatters into a million shards (tonight’s lovely example).  I’d recognize that God has a greater purpose, even though the situation stinks at the moment.

I’d read that God is the healer, meaning he can heal anything (Exodus 15:26).  So the hamstring I pulled this morning during my workout wouldn’t worry me so much.  God could heal it in an instant, if it worked out according to his purpose (see above).

And the power outage we had this morning for a few hours wouldn’t concern me as much.  I’d remember what Jesus said about the birds of the air and the lilies of the filed, how they don’t need to worry because God cares for them (Luke 12:24-27).  And they don’t have electricity either.

Lord, grant me Lizzy’s faith.

If you’ve never read Robert Munger’s little story, My Heart, Christ’s Home, I highly recommend it.

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:14-19 ESV).

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Amy’s False Idols: Therapist God

As I continue to seek out long hidden idols in my heart, those misrepresentations of God that I’ve come to worship, I’ve found yet another insidious creation taking the true God’s rightful place.  I’m calling this idol Therapist God, and I don’t mean him to be a knock against the entire mental health profession, which is well and good.  But when God starts looking like the guy with the leather couch and the Freud beard, you’ve got an idol problem.

I’m not ashamed to admit that there have been times in my life where I’ve sought therapy from counselors, psychologists, and psychiatrists.  Just like our physical health needs attention and its own special brand of doctors, our mental health also requires its own unique forms of treatment. 

So, I understand the counselor/counselee roles, but I was surprised to recognize that I was playing the parts with God.  I’d sit myself on his couch and talk about my feelings.  Me, Me, Me, Me, Me.  I’d search his word for some tips for how to handle my emotions.  In fact, I just memorized two great verses in James for anger:  “My dear brothers, take note of this:  Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” (1:19-20).

So far, my attitude isn’t exactly bad.  Okay, It’s a little selfish. 

But here’s where it becomes flat out idolatry:  I stop at this stage. 

What makes God vastly different and superior from all mental health professionals is his ability to transform us and our minds.  Whereas a counselor or psychiatrist can give us tips and tricks, be a good listening ear, or maybe even prescribe some excellent pharmaceuticals, only God has the power to change us 100%, in an instant, if he wishes. 

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day who is a former drug addict, and this point hit me really hard.  In her former life, she did drugs, slept around, got abortions, and made a general mess of her life.  Then, she met Jesus, and he transformed her, heart, mind, and soul.  I was sitting with her as she nursed the latest addition to her growing family, when I realized how feeble my idol was.

Sure, a counselor might have helped her out a bit, but nobody but Jesus could make her the incredible mom and wife that she is today. 

So this is where I’m selling God short.  By calling him Therapist God and limiting him to the powers of an earthly therapist, I’m denying the miracles that I’ve witnessed him perform in my own life and the lives of others.  I’m losing faith in his power to transform, renew, and recreate.

And of course, this should change my prayer life.  When I pray to therapist God, it’s as low key as a therapy session.  But when I lay my heart and mind before the God who has the power to change me forever, I walk away awed and inspired.  And a little scared.  Nobody faces transforming change without just a little trepidation.

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2a).