Childlike Faith – Living and Loving Your Life With God's Perspective

Category - joy

Does God Randomly Surprise Us With His Love?

connemara-lakes-and-mountains
I’ve been thinking recently about the ways that God endeavors to show us that He loves us, that we are the apple of His eye. Many times, we are just moving so fast as we manage our responsibilities and commitments that we miss or dismiss His gestures of affection, and then wonder why He doesn’t seem actively involved in our life. I’ve been there. When I slow down (or am forced to slow down), I feel I am much more attuned to Him, and see much more clearly evidence of His grace, kindness, and even delight in me. Sometimes it is hard to believe, but He does delight in me. And you. Just because we struggle to believe something doesn’t make it not true.

Sometimes it is hard to believe, but He does delight in me. And you. Just because we struggle to believe something doesn’t make it not true.

Going on vacation overseas with Rachel also helps me to slow down and find Him in the newly created space. I’m not in my normal routine, and eyes and ears are more open to receive whatever He wants to show me, instead of simply moving to the next task, and the next task, until I’m done with the duties of the day. Recently, we were in Connemara National Park on the west Coast of Ireland, and on a whim decided to try to hike up to the top of the highest point we could see. After parking at the visitor center and following some signs, we found out that we could summit “Diamond Hill,” which had an altitude of almost 1,500 feet and a route length of a bit over four miles. Those stats might make it seem like a walk in the park, but it definitely was not because of a few variables.

bottom-of-diamond-hill

First, Rachel was six months pregnant. It’s like she was carrying a watermelon in front of her. She’s okay with me saying that, because it’s true. I personally cannot imagine carrying even a cantaloupe in front of me while I climbed up a mountainous hill, especially as we had to use our hands a few times to steady ourselves and pull ourselves up. Second, it was really windy. I mean, the wind was whipping hard on us and around us and there was simply no protection from it on the way up. Third, the Visitor’s Center was closed, there was no one else on the trail, and we were in a foreign country where no one knew we were doing this. Nevertheless, we soldiered onward and wanted to give it a shot, knowing all along that we could turn back at any point if necessary. 

The first half of the climb was a slight but steady incline. While Rachel needed to take breaks periodically to catch her breath and drink some water, we had no fear or nervousness. And as we got higher, we stopped often to take in the stunning views offered by the surrounding mountains and valleys and lakes under a cloudy sky backlit by the dusky sun. With no one else around, it felt like Diamond Hill, and Connemara, and even all of Ireland was ours and only ours to enjoy. This was also our first real hike of the vacation, and we love to hike – and so it finally felt like we had “arrived” and we were doing what we loved the most in what seemed like the prettiest countryside in the world.

sheep-on-diamond-hill

The second half of the climb was more difficult because we had to travel up a long and often steep pathway of rocky steps towards the summit. It was insanely windy, and I could tell Rachel was starting to struggle, but I also could tell that really wanted to do this. I kept offering to turn back, because I truly didn’t care whether we reached the top or not – all that mattered was that we were spending quality time together and getting some fresh air on the Emerald Isle. However, I think we both realized that this might be a watershed moment in our relationship and in our lives.

Though I had a tendency to hike about ten feet in front of her, she mentioned that it would be a good idea to stay next to her and practice coaching her up the mountain in preparation for coaching her through labor. I thought that was a great idea. She said that as long as she could feel my presence and encouragement, she would know that she could do this, and all would be well. I agreed completely, and those words energized me to make sure I came through for her in the most loving, patient, and supportive way I could.

And so that’s what we did, slowly, steadily, and with courage, all the way up until we reached the gigantic cairn marking the apex of Diamond Hill after two and a half hours. When we first saw it, I spontaneously cheered out loud in excitement because we had made it, and had accomplished the feat together through teamwork. I knew it viscerally conveyed to Rachel that we could do anything together, starting with the birth of our first child in a few short months. And if any doubts or fears subtly crept in – as they tend to do – we both would now be able to point to, and derive confidence from, this moment and epic accomplishment. I was thrilled, Rachel was thrilled, and I honestly felt like God was thrilled – I knew He had our back on this particular adventure, and did His part in helping us succeed.

It would have been enough of a demonstration of His love and provision to get us up and down Diamond Hill safely. However, He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, and as such had a few more surprises for us. Even though we were buzzing from the adrenaline high of summiting, and the knowledge that the hardest part of the climb was behind us, God chose to go above and beyond in amazing us with nature and creation by letting us see 1) lots of sheep up close along the trail, including a few really cute baby lambs 2) wild, old mountain goats with huge horns and shaggy beards 3) deer 4) cows 5) and a horse and pony that we could pet.

If that weren’t enough, the sun came out when we were almost back to the trailhead, lifting our spirits even higher. Then, both Rachel and I turned around to say farewell to the challenge we just conquered, and our jaws dropped to see a full double rainbow over our mountain. Rachel almost broke down in tears, and the emotion of it all filled us with so much gratefulness and awe towards the only One who could make it all happen.

panoramic rainbow

On the way back to the car, we marveled in astonishment at experiencing so much natural beauty all in a flush, all in an overflowing abundance. It felt incredibly personal, like a whisper between best friends, or a secret between lovers. Rachel and I were fully in the moment, and fully dependent on Him and Him alone during the climb. In that, He chose to communicate how much He truly loves us. And in that, we were able to receive His love overwhelmingly, and it has given us the reassurance we need that He is with us, goes before us, and has our absolute best in mind.

How a Superhero Cape Helps Me Be Awesome

childlike cape faith
Rachel made me a cape!  A full-sized, heavy, satiny, superhero cape!  I am totally shocked and bowled over by how freaking awesome it is!  This is the best gift I have ever received in my entire life!

I’ve honestly always wanted a cape, ever since I saw the original Superman with Christopher Reeve.  We both had black hair, and wore glasses, and were a bit nerdy.  Clark Kent obviously had a unique gift and calling on his life, and in my innocence I wondered if maybe I did too.  I remember using a safety pin to hold together the short end corners of the biggest bath towel I could find to wear around my neck.  And then I would run through the house with my cape fluttering behind me, and jump off couches and beds and chairs and anything else I could find.  In my mind, being a superhero involved a lot of jumping, perhaps as practice to leap tall buildings in a single bound.   

My cape made me feel strong, powerful, courageous, and noble.  It made me feel like I was more than meets the eye, that I had a secret and special quality about me that no one else had.

My cape made me feel strong, powerful, courageous, and noble.  It made me feel like I was more than meets the eye, that I had a secret and special quality about me that no one else had.  And that it would help me to be the best version of myself, to battle evil and save lives and just naturally do great and awesome things to make the lives of others better and safer and happier.  I think everyone wants this, and not just while growing up.  We want to have something extraordinary about us to share, something that we can unveil to the world to fulfill a grand purpose.

I haven’t worn a towel like a cape since before adolescence.  But I have always delighted in what it signifies.  And since I’ve known Rachel, I’ve joked offhandedly about how I would love a cape because it represents what I am all about.  Childlike faith.  Truth and justice for all.  Awe and wonder.  Intrepid valor.  Romance.  Living from one’s heart above all else, for the greater good. 

childlike faith castle

She surprised me with it for our second wedding anniversary when she came to visit me in Ireland this summer.  I got out of the shower, and there it was laying on the bed for me.  I was completely dumbfounded and speechless when I first saw it, and didn’t know what it was, but then it hit me. 

I was like, “You got me a cape?  You got me a cape?!!  You got me a CAPE!!!!” And she was like, “I made you a cape!”  Even remembering the moment as I write this out makes me marvel anew at her act of love towards me. 

You have to see it in person.  I’ll even let you try it on if you want.  I didn’t want a cape with the Superman logo, something you could buy in a costume shop.  I wanted my very own, something that no one else had.  And no one else has this cape in the entire world!  I love that it’s red, with a gold stallion as the insignia (its meaning is personal).  I love that the inside of it is black.  I love that it has weight and class to it, as the material is just exquisite and really makes me think that all of the best capes out there – Superman’s, Batman’s, Dracula’s – were made just like this one.  And when I wear it, I don’t feel derpy or ridiculous.  Instead, I feel joy – simply and purely.

I want to remain curious, and wide-eyed, and risk-taking – and expect that things will work out in the end.  I want to feel mysterious, and dashing, and capable of tremendous feats.

While we were vacationing around Ireland, my favorite thing to do was to find the ruins of a castle, put on my cape, and go climbing around on it.  You might think that it took me back to being a kid again, but in my mind it was a wonderful reminder that I haven’t stopped being a kid – at least in the most desirable ways.  I want to remain curious, and wide-eyed, and risk-taking – and expect that things will work out in the end.  I want to feel mysterious, and dashing, and capable of tremendous feats.  This is how I always want to see myself, how always I want to be.

As I think about it, my cape is important to me for two major reasons. 

First, it represents a rite of passage.  In adolescence, we have bar and bat mitzvahs in the Jewish tradition, confirmation in the Catholic faith, Quinceanera in Spanish cultures, Seijin Shiki in Japanese customs.  Many times, some symbol or token is given to formally mark the transition from child to adult, and their calling forth into greater responsibility, maturity, and strength.  I’ve heard of examples where the token was a replica broad sword from Lord of the Rings, or a necklace of great significance and meaning. 

superhero cape faith

It may seem like an unnecessary formality, but it is a very special thing to commemorate a major life change in a tangible way that conveys encouragement, support, and nobility.  It also then serves as a clear, unquestionable marker and signpost to remind a person from where he has come, and where he is going.  I find that individuals need to know when a transition has happened, or else they flounder and flail while seemingly suspended between two stages. And they never really make the “jump” – leaving the past in the past and fully embracing the present and future. 

My cape encourages me to stiff-arm complacency, press through fear, and fight the good fight just like Superman or Batman or any other caped crusader would.

I’m about to be a father for the first time.  This is a humongous deal.  My cape serves as a token of remembrance that spurs me on to be a hero to my forthcoming child, and to my wife.  It also reminds me to view the world as my playground, where anything can happen and everything is possible (I still believe that).  It encourages me to stiff-arm complacency, press through fear, and fight the good fight just like Superman or Batman or any other caped crusader would.  It helps me to rise up, and be the best I can be.

Second, in 2 Kings there is a great story of when the older prophet Elijah passes on his mantle (or robe, or cloak) to his younger sidekick Elisha.  A mantle is very similar to a cape, and represented a covering from God that conferred authority and responsibility to one chosen to do great things.  When I see my cape – and honestly even when I think about it – it serves a tremendous purpose.  I am reminded that He has set me apart, to be a light in dark places, to know the words that sustain the weary, to offer hope, to reflect how to live life to the fullest, and most importantly to point others to His son Jesus through all that I do. 

childlike faith ireland

There’s so much in this world that destroys our innocence, and that breaks our will and even our heart.  There’s so much that pushes us in the direction of bitterness, cynicism, passivity, and resignation. We find ourselves in a downright war for emotional health and stability as adults just trying to make it, and the battles we must fight every day render us weary. 

I think we’d all face these struggles with more fortitude and hope if we could approach them with the mindset we had before our childhood was rocked. Or stolen. And often, we need something to get us there, to jolt us out of our self-defeating thoughts and attitudes.

My cape does that. It serves as the reminder I need to regain the perspective I always want to have in life. It helps me to remember my identity, my calling, and all that I am meant for – and meant to be.

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