After God’s got my attention twice recently through His goodness as my Father, I’ve been moved to think about “Dad magic.”
What’s that? It’s the childlike sense of wonder and awe at the things fathers are able to do.
When you come to your dad, teary eyed, with a broken toy in your hands and he disappears into the garage for a few minutes, during which you hear the clamor of tools, the rustling through drawers, and…the zip of duct tape. He emerges and hands you back your plaything and you find that it’s better than new, fully functioning, except that now it’s covered by his fingerprints as well.
Your little mind can’t fathom the depth of his knowledge, power, and ability. All you know is that something you liked was broken and now it is whole again. There’s just a simple sense of wonder, joy, thankfulness.
I think this is behind the idea of having faith like a child. It’s not naivete or ignorance; rather, it’s the ability to be awed, to be floored with gratitude, to happily cry, “Cool! Thanks!” and be off on your way again, playing, celebrating, enjoying life. Not asking the questions about the how or the why, but just enjoying the reality of the fact of what is, what He has done.
We call it childlike faith simply because it’s more typical of children, and it’s easier for them. As adults, fighting against our impulses to uncover the reasons, the details, the explanations is almost impossible. I fought the fight recently, and was able to win, to just accept and enjoy the reality by faith. But it wasn’t easy.
Of course, another part of childlike faith is the excitement, the crying out to your friends, “Look what my dad did!” Children can be proud of their parents, and there is a special joy in bragging on one’s mom or dad to one’s friends. To display a parent’s handiwork in front of friends only adds to the joy that was rooted in the reality of the repaired toy. Our joy becomes more full, more vibrant, when there’s an opportunity to share it with others.
But we rarely talk about God like that. It’s hard enough to experience the first level of Dad magic, engaging in the awe, wonder, and thankfulness privately. Shouting these things to your friends is more likely to get you labeled a religious fanatic than it is to lead to an increase of joy. But that’s a problem for us to wrestle with, not Him. Kids will tout their parent’s accomplishments even when others think that those accomplishments are lame or uncool.
Of course, the joy will quickly get deflated by those naysayers, and after too many experiences of that, we begin to hold in our joy, we stop offering it to others to share in. And then, we stop experiencing the joy altogether, even for ourselves.
Childlike faith isn’t childish, it’s just more naturally the realm of children. But it’s possible for those of us more advanced in years to approach our Father with the same confidence, the same expectation of success and joy, the same feeling of gratitude, the same public declaration of His awesomeness…if we’re willing to set aside some of our adult conditioning.
That doesn’t mean turning off our brain and giving into insanity (as some might label such faith). But it does mean disciplining our hearts and minds to just experience and appreciate, to let go of the aim of full understanding, and to just enjoy the awe of Dad magic.