Child-Like Faith

The stage lights shut off and the auditorium lights brighten. Standing up from our seats in the large auditorium, Mikayla notices a young woman sitting alone in her seat.

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“Mom, I feel like I should go talk to that woman?” my sensitive, heart of gold girl says.

Amongst the hundreds of people in the room, I have no idea what woman she was seeing. Before I had a chance to really focus on who she was talking about, my inquisitive Abby began her rapid fire questions, “Where are we going now, mom? Can we swim now, mom? I am hungry. Can I eat something?”

We slowly rise from our seats and begin the gradual exit from our row. Turning my head the direction I last saw Mikayla go, I see the most beautiful sight. Mikayla is leaning towards the crying young woman she had spotted earlier, with her hand on the woman’s shoulder. Both have their eyes closed, heads bowed. Praying to the Creator. The Comforter. The Counselor.

After Jesus was crucified, resurrected and then appeared to the disciples, He explained the power the disciples held by abiding in Him, the power we hold, and the power Mikayla called on when praying for the young woman.

Mark 16: 17,18: And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.

Mikayla laid her hand on the young woman, and called on the power of the Holy Spirit to comfort and strengthen her.

This week at AMTC (Actors Models and Talent for Christ) Shine has been a whirlwind. We watched our 11-year-old, Mikayla, act and model all week in front of hundreds of spectators. Our family saw her smile and enjoy herself doing something she loves: perform. She came alive in front of the camera and audience.

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But, the moment that took my breath away, was watching Mikayla pray with a woman more than twice her age. Encouraging the woman in the way the Spirit led her. After this powerful encounter, Mikayla joined us in walking out into the lobby. No mention of the selfless act she just performed. The performance from the week I can just imagine caused God to smile with delight.

With jam-packed days, with people always around, I am embarrassed to say, it wasn’t until a day or two later that I followed up with Mikayla about her encounter with the woman. When I did, I couldn’t hold back the tears.

“Mikayla, I keep meaning to ask about the lady I saw you talking to the other day in the auditorium.”

“Oh, the woman, I prayed with?” she casually asks.

“Yes. Is she okay? What was wrong?”

Mikayla sensitively begins, as if she’s right back in the moment with the hurting woman, “She said she just wants to feel closer to God again. She said she feels like she wants to have faith like a child again, to just trust God. So I prayed with her, mom.”

My body fills with a flood of warmth. Tears instantly stream my cheeks.

Isn’t that just like God? To bring a faith-filled child to pray and encourage a young woman in need of child-like faith? 

Oh, God. You know our needs. You know the best way to meet our needs. You know the best time to meet our needs.

Of all the proud moments I had this week, I was never prouder than seeing my 11-year-old following the lead of the Spirit, forgoing her flesh without a thought, and reaching out in faith and love.

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Christmas Sacrifice

The tree outside the library window is standing tall in the cold static air. Barren branches, exposed to the weather. Branches hanging, empty, yet containing life inside of them. Branches free of any weight. Free to move in the wind or to remain still in the stale air. Arching over each other like a canopy.

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Like that tree, I sat barren for years. Not allowing the life inside of me to spill out. Selfishly holding onto the energy, activity, life created in me. Stifling my God-given nature, and fueling my self-centered nature.

And like those protective canopying branches, I tried in vain to protect myself. No outward, life giving protection, no inward strength.

Then there’s the evergreen tree. Showing it’s beauty all year. Holding on to it’s covering, it’s shield from the storms. Remaining faithful in it’s creation. Not changing with the seasons.

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Our Christmas tree, sitting in the middle of our front room, symbolizes that faithfulness. We go out and find the most beautiful tree each year. Stomping through puddles, and then hauling the tree home.  From there we place the green tree in the stand, adorn it with decorations and lights, and then enjoy it’s beauty and wonder throughout the season.

This tree, this Christmas tree…this tree displayed to celebrate  “Christ’s Mass”, commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, in our home, reminding me to focus my heart on His birth. His coming to earth. The Father sacrificing His son by sending Jesus to us…to me.

Since allowing God’s truth into my heart about 20 years ago, each Christmas seems to hold a deeper meaning than the one before. I remember that first magical Christmas. Presents losing their importance and the Christmas Eve service becoming a highlight for my longing heart. Each year, the Lord reveals more of Himself and my heart becomes more and more connected to the impact of that Virgin birth in the stable.

What clouded my heart from fully celebrating Christmas all those years? What in me caused material items to come before the Father’s gift to me?

Sometimes it feels easier, less vulnerable to focus on the materialism this time of year, rather than face my need for a Savior. 20 years ago, I had to face my brokenness, my sin and shame, and realize my need. I had to face my inadequacy, my inability to do anything on my own about my situation.

Some of us are letting guilt and shame block our path from receiving His righteousness. The book of Romans explains that all of us have fallen short and we all require a Savior. None of us on our own are good enough. All righteousness, all goodness abiding in me is from the Lord.

That’s what we celebrate at Christmas. Jesus Christ came to this earth, born as a human child, to live a short while on the earth showing an example of living out love. And then ultimately dying so that His righteousness could live inside of me… Inside of you.

How can I meditate on this  birth, this sending down, without thinking about another tree. The tree my Savior was nailed to. The heavy cross, made from trees.

rugged-crossThe Father, sacrificing twice…sending His beloved son to earth. Leaving the glory of heaven to live on this sinful earth. And, then once again, sacrificing His son through  death on the cross.

This sacrificial birth and death beg me to ask myself, what am I willing to sacrifice?

Like the leafy tree outside the window, letting go of it’s protection each fall, opening up to receive what nature has in store for it. Can I let go of some of the false protective barrier I hold on to and allow the Father to lead me in His plans? This coming year, can I release my plans and open up my heart to His plans, trusting in His protection, His goodness, His Faithfulness?

Can you sacrifice? Can you let go of your futile attempts to be good enough? Release your desire for perfection? Your to-do lists? Can you open up to the Lord’s plan for you? Open up to allow His righteousness to live within you? 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sacrificing your son through His life and death. May each of us be more open to you this coming year. May we lay down the barriers between us and allow more of You into our hearts. Amen.