Childlike Trust


We have all seen the self-confident child running around and exploring everything there is to see. Then, sometimes, the child looks around and can’t find their parent or older sibling and a look of confusion or fear comes to their face.

It reminds me of the gospel story of Peter walking on the water from the boat to Jesus. He is fine until he looks down and lets a doubt come into his mind. “I can’t walk on water!” Peter was doing just that, but by thinking of what he was doing instead of looking at Jesus, the “impossible act” becomes impossible for him.

We copy the child and Peter. When things are going well, we sail along. Then something happens and we look around to try to find the one who is always there.

Fortunately, God understands our weakness and provides various means to help us get on track. In my recent readings, God has repeatedly led me to understand that I need to live knowing He is there even without thinking about it.

This is a message He repeatedly sends to me. Years ago, I was in what is usually considered a “New Thought” church, part of the Unity School of Christianity . It would be considered liberal by many people. James Dillet Freeman (1912-2003) served as their “poet laureate” Most Unity churches end their service by saying Freeman’s “Prayer for Protection”:

The Light of God surrounds Us 

The Love of God enfolds Us

The Power of God protects Us

and the Presence of God watches over Us

Where ever we are God is! And all is well!

Amen.

It is a wonderful reminder that there is no place we can be where God isn’t. Whatever we do and wherever we are, He knows it and is watching over us and watching for us.

And yet, let us find something that bothers us or doesn’t go the way we want and we start asking “Where is God?” The answer, of course, is right there, next to us. But we decide to ignore that and believe that “if God were there” the result would be different.

I have just been introduced to Oswald Chambers My Utmost for His Highest. It is a set of daily devotions originally published in 1935. In his entry for August 20 he writes that “A child of God never prays to be made aware of the fact that God answers prayers, because he is so restfully certain that God always answers prayer.”

That indeed is childlike trust. To be so certain of God’s presence and love that we don’t have to continually ask if He is there.

In Ruthless Trust, Brennan Manning talks about how to move all of this from an idea to something we live.

Our trust in Jesus grows as we shift from making self-conscious efforts to be good to allowing ourselves to be loved as we are (not as we should be). The Holy Spirit moves us from the head to the heart, from intellectual cognition to experiential awareness. An inward stillness pervades our being, and the time of prayer is characterized by less rational reflection and speaking and more contemplative quiet and listening.

I would love to be able to add my own experiences and observations to all this, but I can’t. I have been blessed with moments of this peace but, all too few. I spend far more time trying to do it myself or “be good” or whatever I can think of instead of relying on God.

I started this site because I know I need to get the message and God could use my writing efforts to give me another way to hear Him. That is certainly the case for this subject.

I know God is waiting for me to have a childlike trust in Him. I am currently far from that. I hope my writing this will help anyone who reads it. I don’t know if they “need to hear this.” I know I do.

Being Accepted


For those who believe in coincidence, I just had a whopper. I was dwelling on the difference between doing and being and my reading brought the point home in a hurry. The book is “Shame & Grace: Healing the Shame We Don’t Deserve” by Lewis B. Smedes.

The chapter entitled “the Beginning of our Healing” describes the true nature of grace and how it changes the entire nature of the religious quest. Before this chapter, he discusses the ways we accept shame or shame ourselves. He also discusses those who constantly try to do things to make ourselves feel worthy. He talks about Martha, who is busy serving food to Jesus instead of enjoying his presence, and the Prodigal’s brother who is constantly “doing what he is supposed to” with a feeling of duty instead of joy. These people do things in order to be acceptable to themselves or others. They can’t just be relaxed.

In most self-help classes, and some religions, the answer offered is, as Smedes says, “Persuading ourselves that we are just fine the way we are.” This doesn’t work for many people.

He then writes:

[T]he experience of being accepted is the beginning of healing for the feeling of being unacceptable.

Being accepted is the single most compelling need of our lives; no human being can be a friend of herself while at the edges of her consciousness she feels a persistent fear that she may not be accepted by others.

This is the dilemma for those who feel they are not accepted.  They do everything they can to be accepted and yet it never works. In the end, they still feel the same way about themselves. Smedes writes that we are not ready for another answer until “we are bone tired of our struggle to be worthy and acceptable.”

He avoids heavy theological discussions about the nature of God and grace and cuts to the chase by describing four ways we experience the “Grace of God.” The pertinent one, for now, is

We experience grace as acceptance: we are reunited with God and our true selves, accepted, cradled, held, affirmed, and loved. Accepting grace is the answer to shame.

This is the difference. God’s acceptance of us is never earned; it can only be experienced and welcomed. We can’t do anything to earn acceptance, we can only be aware that we are accepted.

Jesus said we had to come to Him like a child. Smedes description of this truth is:

To experience grace is to recover our lost inner child. The heart of our inner child is trust. … Shame cheats us of childhood. Grace gives it back to us.

… Trust is the inner child we rediscover in an experience of grace.

Grace overcomes shame … by accepting us, the whole of us, with no regard to … our virtue or our vices. … Accepted at the ultimate depth of our being. We are given what we have longed for in every nook and nuance of every relationship.

I find no comfort in a general idea the universe somehow accepts me. The universe has no personality. Christianity offers a grace I can understand, at least somewhat. It says the God of all there is loved the world, and me, enough to lower Himself to a human state and suffer for my benefit.

I remember a prayer session many years ago when I asked, “If I were the only person who needed your great act of love, would you have gone through all that for me?” It was clear to me His love was so great the answer was “Yes.”

Another time, after an extended period of prayer, I had the experience of Jesus just standing beside me with His arm over my shoulder. It was the deepest feeling of peace I have ever experienced. He was asking nothing of me. There was nothing to do but stand there and be at peace with nothing to worry about.

Yet, I strive to impress Him or earn something. He doesn’t want that, but I forget to be trusting and try to do something for Him.  Today, I was trying to figure out the difference being doing and being. At that moment, by coincidence or “God-incidence” I happened to be reading the exact chapter in the exact book which perfectly describes the difference.

It was God’s polite way of saying that no matter how much I try to do for Him, His love for and acceptance of me will always be more than I can earn or ask. The trick is simple, lighten up and look for and be willing to receive his gifts.

An Active God


Dr. Ben Carson is a world-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. He is known for his surgeries separating twins joined at the head.

His autobiography, Gifted Hands, is an exciting story. The surprising thing, for many readers, will be his openness in describing the role God has played in his life.  Carson is a Seventh-Day Adventist.  His story about God’s intervention in Carson’s dealing with anger is fascinating.

For those interested in science, God’s role in helping Carson pass a Chemistry course at Yale is even more incredible. Finding himself overwhelmed by the concepts and formulas in the course, Carson had let himself fall behind. Realizing he would lose his life dream of being a doctor, he started to cram the night before the exam.

When he fell into an exhausted sleep, he had a dream. In the dream, a man walked to a blackboard and started explaining various aspects of Chemistry.  On waking, Carson rapidly wrote what he remembered and did some quick research on items the man in the dream had discussed. When he started the exam that morning, he found that each question on the exam had been covered in his dream. He got a 97 on the exam and passed the course with a good grade.

My experience with God’s intervention is not that dramatic. I had reached a crisis in my life and, being somewhat overdramatic, starting quoting Hamlet’s famous “To Be or Not To Be” soliloquy. The phrase “to die, perchance to dream” refers to the Christian belief that suicide is a rejection of God’s love and the suicide will spend eternity in Hell. In my frustration, I yelled to God, “You’re probably just a myth to keep us from committing suicide, but, if you’re there, do something!” Through an interesting series of events, I came to a belief in God in about six weeks.

Most of the time, we find it easy to stay in a casual religious environment. We think that regular church attendance or helping our neighbors is all we have to do. God wants to be a bigger part of our lives and wants to show us His love and interest. Do we let Him?

Sometimes, I let myself think that God intervened when I needed it but surely He doesn’t want me to keep bothering Him. Doesn’t He expect me to grow up and be able to move on by myself? But, then, I see a woman continuing to mother her children regardless of their age. I also know, as a father, that my concern for daughter doesn’t end.

Just as many mothers are saying tonight, “Call, already!” God is ready and waiting for us to walk with Him and talk with Him.  If you have never done it before, I can only say “Try it, you’ll like it!” For those of us who have experienced it, God is waiting for us to call again, and again, and …

Perfexion


It is humbling to write a blog about letting God’s love fill your life.  The obvious question is “Who do you think you are to write on a subject like this?” It’s simple – I have to think, pray and write about it because I don’t know how to do it.

I am clearly the older brother in the Prodigal parable and the busy sister Martha trying to make everything right in hosting Jesus.  I try to do it right. My career choice shows that. I spend my life writing computer programs which don’t work if I put a period in the wrong. place

The problem for the perfectionist is that no matter what I do it is never enough. I know my faults and even imagine some. It took me years to understand that in order to love others as I love myself, I have to love myself.  After all, God loves me.  If He can love me, why can’t I?

The idea is to learn to relax in God’s love and enjoy the incredible truth that He loves me even when I don’t get it rite!