Written By: Jeremiah Storkson
Have you ever felt like something was wrong, but you couldn’t pinpoint what it is? That feeling of undeniable yet mysterious unrest is a confusing place to live. A while back, I found myself feeling that way. I felt overwhelmed with a sense of tiredness; not a physical tiredness, but a spiritual fatigue. I would read the news and feel tired. Not angry or depressed, just simply blank. It was as if I was desensitized and numbed to the pain of the world and of the presence of God—almost as if I was used to it. During this time, a phrase came to mind as I prayed and processed my thoughts. This phrase was simple:
“Back to the basics”
When I first had this phrase come to mind, I thought of a basketball player whose shot is off. The first solution is usually to go back to the original fundamentals of what makes the shot go in. In our lives, we sometimes have to go back to the things that made us grow or that made us have the relationship with God that we have now. But that wasn’t my problem. I was reading the Bible and praying. I was doing all those good things, but I still felt this overwhelming sense of heaviness and spiritual dryness in my soul.
What do you do with that feeling? What does this idea of going back to the basics have to do with the state and posture of our soul? It actually has everything to do with it. In our relationship with Jesus, going back to the basics is revisiting a place where our heart is in tremendous closeness to God. That is sort of the childhood stage of our relationship with Christ, when we were brand-new, just born into the family, and were in a place of awe. I have a friend who, in his past, was an addict, and very lost. Once this person came to Christ, I had never seen anyone more on fire for God. He worshipped with a childlike surrender, and I always wanted that. I desired that type of pure, almost innocent communion with Jesus. In a way, you could say it was a relationship like that of a kid and his loving dad.
Jesus, in His time and ministry on earth, was clear about His love for children. He mentions this several times, two of them appearing in the book of Matthew.
“At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, ‘Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, ‘Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.’”
Matthew 18:1-6 (NASB)
“Then some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, ‘Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’ After laying His hands on them, He departed from there.”
Matthew 19:13-15 (NASB)
In these passages, there is a clear indication from Jesus that He values the innocence of a child. In fact, He harshly warns that anyone who violates them will be punished. In Matthew 19, He even says that the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as those children. Why does He value that innocence, though? Why does He ask that we humble ourselves as a child? This brings me to think about how I was as a child, and I realized that I was completely trusting.
Children, in their natural state, don’t have many problems trusting until they have been given a reason not to trust someone. As a kid, I would jump from all kinds of heights, knowing my dad would catch me. If I was scared, the presence of my dad was enough to make me feel like I could take on anyone. I trusted without much trouble.
Likewise, in our early faith, we are in a place of unadulterated trust. We know that Jesus Christ died for our sins, and we know that He has a plan, and that is good enough. Naturally, and rightly so, we want more as we grow deeper. For many of us, the good and needed maturing stage of our walk with God can almost take away from our childlike faith.The truth is, God never wanted the childlike faith to leave with our maturation—He actually wanted that faith to fuel the way we mature and grow deeper in knowledge, and in the way we see the world.
Maybe for you, you read the news, and you find yourself constantly questioning God. You see the injustice, murder, war, division, racism, and intense darkness that permeates this world, and you just feel defeated in your faith. Maybe you are just tired. You are getting close to finals, and the semester is kicking your tail. You feel deflated, and you just don’t feel the closeness with God that you used to. Maybe for you, you have faced personal tragedy, and the innocence of your faith is gone due to the doubts you have.
I don’t know what it may be for you, but what I do know is that you can come back to simply being like a child. Childlike faith is not naïve; rather it is a place of being humbly in love with Christ, seeking Him for who He is, not just what He does, and seeking His presence before you seek His action.
Childlike faith accompanies the maturing process of our relationship with Christ. It is a place of constant gratitude for the love He has shown. Childlike faith is dependence on Christ, rather than simple innocence. It is making the choice to trust God– even when things do not make sense. This faith sees the world with eyes of Jesus, having compassion for its lost state. This kind of faith is the hardest to have, because it is the least worldly. However, maybe that is the point, and maybe becoming more like a child in our faith is how we can truly go back to the basics.