The old rust-colored 1953 Ford pickup truck slowed to a stop as the traffic light cycled from yellow to red. The three year old on the bench seat beside me rattled on a mile a minute about his Sunday School class the day before.
“Our teacher says that God knows what we need before we even ask Him. Why do we need to pray, anyhow?”
Without pursuing the subject any further, the little tyke moved on to other things. Big Wheels and swing sets were more up his alley than the more weighty philosophical questions. He did notice that we weren’t moving and wondered aloud about that.
“When will that light turn green, Daddy?”
I was sure it would be soon and told him so. When it didn’t happen in a few seconds, he asked again. I could see the light for the cross-traffic from my vantage point, so I told him maybe I could make it change in a minute.
“Why not now, Daddy?”
A second later, I noticed that the light for the cross-traffic had actually turned yellow. Immediately, I called out an order in authoritative tones.
“One-two-three, change green!”
Obediently, the signal in front of us changed to the designated color and, revving the engine, I engaged the clutch and we eased through the intersection. The boy gazed at me in admiration. Amazement, really.
“Wow! How did you do that, Daddy?”
It would be several years before the little guy noticed the correlation between the other lights and the one directly in front of us. Until that time, he was in awe of his Daddy. He would have more reasons than traffic lights to tarnish that awe before his years at home were done.
Remember what it was like to be a kid? Remember the amazement? The joy of life? The gratitude for simple gifts?
I sit, and I remember, and my eyes fill with tears.
How did I lose that?
When did my heart get so hard?
Last week again, I sat and watched the Father turn a red light to green for me, as a huge tax bill, which had hung over my head for months, was paid without fanfare.
It was huge.
I should be amazed. I should be immensely grateful.
What I am, is demanding.
How did you do that?
Where did all that money come from?
Why did I not know about it?
If I don’t understand it, I don’t trust it. If I can’t explain it, I don’t want it.
I have become like the guy who goes to a magic show and demands to know how each illusion is accomplished. Loud and obnoxious, from the cheap seats, he pushes the magician to reveal every secret, every trick.
It’s as if I believe I could duplicate the result if I knew each step of the routine.
A few weeks ago, I was blessed to visit with a friend who came to town for his university homecoming. I knew he hadn’t planned to come, so I inquired about his change of mind.
He told me that God had done it. My friend had dared God, in a sense, to reveal His will by sending him five hundred dollars in the mail—specifically in the mail—before time for his family to make the trip down from Iowa.
That week, three envelopes arrived for him via the Postal Service. Three different checks, totaling five hundred and six dollars.
That’s what I want! Specifics. Money from this person, and from that company, and from a government refund.
Show me how it’s done!
But last week, I wrote my check for the taxes, and the money was simply there. Where it came from, I don’t know.
I am frustrated. The taxes are paid. I should be in awe, because the amount we needed was insurmountable, but I’m not even sure how I got to here from there.
How do I duplicate this next year? What’s the procedure to insure its repetition? What steps do I take to guarantee an encore performance?
I don’t know any of those things. And, I need to know them.
But then, there’s this:
By faith, Abraham was called to go to the land he would receive as his inheritance. And, obediently he went—get this!—not knowing where he was going. (Hebrews 11:8-10)
The truth sinks in and again, I see the little boy on the truck seat next to me. In awe of a trickster.
In awe. And, I can’t even trust the God of the Universe with the secrets of a tiny part of what He has created.
When am I going to get the hang of this? How long before I unlearn my cynicism and distrust, and live in expectation of greater than I can hope or imagine?
We walk by faith. If we have to see it, it’s not faith.
I want to see the world through childlike eyes again, in faith trusting a God who tells me He wants nothing but the best for me.
I wonder if anybody else reading this has succumbed to the dark and cynical viewpoint the world has pawned off on us? My guess is, if I’ve fallen for it, so have others. Maybe we could help each other to feel the wonder again. We might even encourage each other to trust the visible creation to an unseen God.
What if we really could walk by faith and not by sight? (2 Corinthians 5:7)
Every good gift comes down from Him. Every one—whether I can explain it or not.
And He is the One, after all, who really does know (and control) when the light
is going to change to green again.
One-two-three, change green!
Even so . . .
People like you and me never grow old. We never cease to stand like curious children before the great mystery into which we were born.
(Albert Einstein ~ German-American physicist ~ 1879-1955)
The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
(Galatians 2:20b ~ NIV)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2015. All Rights Reserved.