For the past month or so I have been trying to understand why Christians are called to be child-like in their faith. I came across this in the gospel of Matthew where Christ insists, “unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (MT 18:3). Initially, I was a bit confused on what Christ exactly meant by this passage. I grew up in a Catholic family and said my prayers every night as a child but don’t recall having any profound faith or wisdom. So, why would God call me to revert to my child like tendencies of faith, which were cute but not really admirable? Well, as I’ve started to notice God usually relies on imagery to get a point across to me, so here it goes.
Every weekend various youth groups use are lovely Covecrest facilities to host their retreats. One of my roles as a missionary is to help out with the hospitality work and on this particular weekend I had the pleasure of working with our camp director Jason. On Saturday night we were scrambling about trying to coordinate dinner and Mass for our groups and on this night Jason was not only working the serving line but was also watching his six-month old daughter. How does one serve a hundred and fifty kids while still seeing to the needs of an infant? The baby chest carrier thing, of course!! As he went about doling out food he had his little bundle of joy right there strapped to his chest. I couldn’t help but appreciate how delightful it looked and I soon found myself considering how I might have enjoyed such a set up as a babe. Think about it – as a baby you’re pretty much helpless and here you have this apparatus that can attach to one of your favorite people, your dear ole’ dad. You can look around and your hands and legs are free to kick and wiggle. But, best of all, there has to be a strong feeling of reassurance in being firmly secured to your father, your protector and guardian. And although you can’t see him, nestled right against his chest, his heartbeat can serve as a constant reminder of his unwavering presence and protection.
The next day as I attempted to meditate I couldn’t shake that image of Jason and his daughter. Yes, it was cute but why did it continue to resonate with me? I continued to think about it and realized the little girl in me still desires to feel the safety of being nestled in her father’s embrace and the reassurance of his heartbeat. As silly as it may sound, my prayer soon became, “can you just strap me in, Lord? Put me in one of those carrier things and take me with you?” This world is intimidating and sometimes I feel a bit helpless and desire that same sense of peace and security that a baby strapped to their parent’s chest enjoys. Not only that, but trying to follow Christ, to walk with Him and to go where He leads me, can be intimidating too, and I’m not always confidant that I can do that.
As I continued to contemplate that baby chest carrier image, I was humbled by the realization that alas, here I was, a proud, independent 22-year old, conceding to this desire to be carried around like a baby. What? Did I just express a desire to be more child-like? Yes, yes I did and it was a beautiful realization. Just as a child is fully dependent and trusting in their parents, Christ desires us to rely on Him in the same way. Child-like faith is exactly that, realizing that this faith walk is difficult and being okay with the fact that we are pretty helpless without the Lord. In His embrace, close to His heart, we will find great comfort and understanding in of His plans for us.