My son Ryan will turn fifteen in a couple of months. Naturally, then, he is acting less and less like the little boy I’ve watched grow up. Last Tuesday night, though, he took me back to a simpler time.
He is a freshman on his high-school j.v. baseball team, and they had an away game against Polk that night. So I made the hour-and-a-half drive to watch him play. The game ended in a 2-2 tie. The conference rule is, teams play six innings and then get one extra inning to decide a tie. If the score is still deadlocked after that seventh inning, that’s it, time to load up the buses and go home.
Ryan rode home with me and we stopped at a Burger King to grab a late supper. I ordered my usual Whopper with cheese and he ordered his usual chicken tenders. We sat down at the table and I got back up to fill my drink. When I returned I saw that Ryan was praying. I figured he was offering his typical “fast” prayer over his “fast” food. As I stood there, though, not wanting to interrupt him, I noticed that the prayer seemed a touch more lengthy and intense than usual.
Once the prayer was finished, I took my seat across from Ryan and just had to ask, “What were you praying?” Yes, that was nosy of me, but, hey, that’s how parents roll. Before Ryan answered, he gave a little grin as if he had been caught doing something off limits. Then he said, “I thanked God for the game. I thanked Him for the food. And I asked Him to have you let me get some dessert.”
You’d understand that request better if you knew how passionate the boy is over his desserts. It’s an ongoing issue with us that every time we walk into a restaurant he has to do a second round of ordering so that he can enjoy dessert while the rest of us are still finishing up our meal. There have also been plenty of occasions where I gave him the canned speech, “Son, isn’t it enough that I’ve spent $20 in gas to come to this game and then spent another $10 or $15 for us to eat afterward? Do you have to have another $3 for dessert too?”
By the way, before you label me as a heartless, miserly Scrooge, let me say that I almost always give in and let him have dessert. I have to admit that as I watch him wolf down those sweets I’ve never seen anybody enjoy anything more! And, yes, he got his ice cream-brownie-thing at Burger King that night too. I couldn’t refuse him after he melted my heart with such a sweet, simple, childlike request, one that he wasn’t even going to let me in on if I hadn’t asked.
But here’s the thing, that night, as I sat there eating my Whopper, I couldn’t help but think how wonderful it would be if we Christians could master the childlike faith of a boy asking God to lead his daddy to let him buy a dessert. What was it Jesus said?
Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3-4)
The pure, innocent, guileless faith of a child, how much of it do you have? I confess that the longer I walk with the Lord the less I have of it. Things just seem to keep getting more complicated and convoluted between me and the Lord. How I’d love to get back to that simplistic walk I once enjoyed with Him.
Perhaps it will be that the greater toll the aging process takes on me and the less self-sufficient I become, the more my childlike faith will return to me. That’s what I suspect will happen anyway. Let’s face it, when you just can’t do for yourself, somebody else has to do for you, right? This is a concept that we instinctively understand as children, but we unlearn it when we become adults. Unfortunately, that unlearning hurts us in regards to looking to God to meet our needs and expecting Him to grant our requests. Ryan’s little prayer the other night reminded me of all this. Now we’ll see if I can reclaim some of the childlike characteristics I have lost along the way.