by David Browder
When I was little, my father was larger than life to me. He was bigger and stronger than anyone I could conceive of. He was smarter than anyone I knew. Every day, he would disappear in his car to “work” which was a mysterious place where he would do incomprehensible, grown up things. Later, an hour or so after I returned from school, he would drive back up the driveway after having contended in the marketplace on our behalf.
There was always food in my stomach, clothes on my back (although I never did get those Air Jordans I wanted — I got a pair of knock-offs instead). There was safety, protection, nurture, and love — all of those things one takes for granted. His opinions were unassailable. How could you defy such logic?! I certainly couldn’t. His sports team became my sports team. His politics became my politics. His worldview became my worldview. His allegiances became my allegiances. That was the life of a child.
Mark 10:13-16 tells us,
And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.
“Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” This does not mean naivete or unquestioning immaturity. It means something much more profound and meaningful than that. When I was a child, I trusted my father — the kind of trust that doesn’t even recognize itself as being trust. I was tied to my father in that way and it was just a part of who I was. It wasn’t so much about the trust, though. It was all about the object of my trust. I trusted because he was (and is) trustworthy.
There is an old story told by a Lutheran friend of mine about a man who accidentally fell off a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean. He would have been doomed had no one seen him fall. Someone did see him and threw him a life preserver. He was saved. Think about this for a second — it would have been bizarre had the saved man grabbed his hand and said, “Look at that hand! Do you see how that hand grabbed that life preserver? What a hand!” You would think he was insane. The proper response (and the one we would all undertake) would be to look up at the one who threw the ring and said, “Thank you! I would have died had you not saved me!”
The hand is trust (or faith). The one who threw the life preserver is the object of trust. It’s entirely about the object of trust. Next week, we are going to go through the old, old story of the Gospel. We are going to hear how Jesus died on a cross and rose again from the dead for us. As you hear that story, understand that it’s not so much about the quality or fervency of your faith. We all wax and wane in that regard. It is entirely about the One who is trustworthy. It is entirely about the Object of our faith. He is trustworthy — so we come to Him as a child. “And He took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.”