As a Texan, the past two months of 2021 have been cold. For a day in January and a whole week in February, freezing temperatures marked this winter as one of the coldest in decades. Ground covered in a blanket of ice and snow, everything I knew about walking, driving, and layering was out the door. In February, I slipped on ice a good seven or eight times. But at least when February’s storm hit, I had learned my lesson to avoid driving.
January 10th was the first snow day of the year. At the time, Baylor was still on winter break and I had gotten into a routine at home to go to the gym in the morning. And when I woke up that morning, a forecast of snow and warnings from my parents didn’t stop me from keeping up my routine.
Snow had just started to fall as I left my house. Having grown up never seeing actual snow, I was awestruck for the entirety of the thirty-minute drive. It wasn’t until I skidded the turn into the parking lot that I broke out of the daze. Realizing the roads would only get worse, I headed back. Slowly making my way, I retreated to safety. Until I hit the big hill. A quarter of a mile straight shot to heaven; the big hill was notorious for setting the outer limit for new drivers. Two-lane, 60mph zone with an excuse of a guardrail on only one side; the big hill was where I’d learn a driving lesson that day. At the base of the hill, I could already see a mass of cars before me struggling to make their way up. I started my ascent but quickly lost traction. In a panic, I called my dad. Within twenty minutes, my mom had dropped him off at the top of the hill and had walked down to rescue me. Fifteen minutes after that we were back in the safety of our home. Four-wheel drive on a Jeep Wrangler is where it’s at.
I begin with this anecdote because it captures the idea of child-like faith, a concept I’ve been learning. Child-like faith is critical to understanding the gospel and to accepting eternal life as well as acting daily from a posture of meekness. To be child-like is to trust in the care of a father, to be fully dependent on them for safety, nourishment, and knowledge. To be child-like is to delight in innocence, curiosity, and teachability. Though, it’s not to be confused with childish faith, which is faith refusing to grow up and is without responsibility.
In relation to one’s first commitment to Christ, Mark 10:15 Jesus says “Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Child-like faith is needed from the beginning of one’s relationship as it’s understanding personal incapability and lack, and trusting God’s capability and abundance. At the heart of the Gospel, we are sinful people in need of a savior to pay our debt. God, being all-powerful, merciful, holy, and loving, sent His son to be that savior; dying on a cross and rising three days later that we might live with Him for eternity. To accept the gift of eternal life is to know full well that we cannot get into Heaven on our own (Ephesians 2:8-9).
For those who have accepted that gift and understand their humble position, we are called to remain in that state of meekness. In John 15:5, Jesus says “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” We can do nothing without remaining in His presence because to be independent and live outside of Christ is to not bear fruit (John 15:4). Matthew 11:29-30 takes this idea further, that abiding in him looks like a teacher-student dynamic. We can learn from his ways and become more like him, bringing more glory to God as we are refined.
As I have learned about this and tried to apply it in my own life, I have come to understand the importance of being child-like. To know full well I don’t have to do anything to achieve salvation is to be free. Being dependent allows me to rest in Him, carefree of anxiety (Matthew 28-34).
When I was stuck halfway up a hill on the side of the road, I knew I couldn’t get out on my own. When I turned to my dad, I knew he would come, that he had the knowledge and resources to save me. And when he came, there was rejoicing because I was safe. Zephaniah 3:17 is a beautiful parallel between my father here on earth and my father in heaven:
“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”
As he drove me home, my dad showed me the gear shift to put my car into four-wheel drive. Just as well, he cautioned driving on roads with ice, saying that it is easier to avoid them together. Like my dad taught me how to drive on ice, Jesus teaches us how to navigate difficult paths and situations, giving us the tools to be successful and words of caution to help us avoid hurting ourselves (emotionally, spiritually, physically; Matthew 7:13-14). And just as my dad expects me to hold onto his teachings, so does our heavenly father (2 Peter 3:9).
For application, I encourage you to look at the parts of your life that you are performing. Working hard to not be left out, changing your appearance and the way you act for approval, chasing after a certain GPA or achievement, not resting until you are liked by every single person, isolating as you try to reach perfection; what areas in your life are you not free? Whatever holds you captive, living for worth and value in the world, take steps to surrender that to God. Because when the world fades, when accomplishments and material things and all things that are vanity are gone, what’s left is your salvation and relationship with God.
I’ll admit it. Most of the time I have it backwards. I put my foundation and security in the world and THEN try to achieve freedom. But each morning I should be waking up to an agenda full of being a child, because my freedom is already established without having to lift a finger. Being child-like is an opportunity to live in curiosity, wonder, teachability, and unquestioning faith all under the care of our father. As I understand this sweet dynamic day by day, I invite you to come alongside me. Take off the pressures of this world to look a certain way, be a specific type of person, say the right things, achieve above and beyond every second of the day. Freedom comes when we realize there isn’t freedom to strive for, but to accept. By being a child and taking my heavenly father’s hand, I have full confidence he will make me lie down in green pastures, lead me beside still waters (Psalm 23:2).