What My Four Year Old Is Teaching Me About Faith

    MannaXPRESS Haley-and-son-5-1200x759 What My Four Year Old Is Teaching Me About Faith
    Haley and Jackson Burress

    By Haley Burress

    My four year old, Jackson, has been speaking for a long time. When he was just 16 months old, an accident on the slide at our local park left him with a broken leg. Since his physical development was put on hold for a month or so, his brain switched gears and started working overtime on verbal development. Add that to a Mama who loves words (I’m a writer, after all), and a Daddy who is a raging extrovert who can talk to anyone, and you’ve got our Jackson – the most verbal preschooler I know.

    We have always loved that he spoke so soon, and so much. Having a glimpse into his brain and thoughts has been a blessing to our entire family. However, now that he is getting older and his vocabulary is getting bigger, his questions are getting harder.

    At our house, we read his kids Bible all the time and he goes to Sunday school and choir practice weekly. We pray before meals and when we are nervous. My husband and I like to think that we are fostering a love and trust of God in his little heart. I also recognize that watching his blind and fully trusting faith is such a lesson to me. Here are a few things that I’ve learned by simply watching him.

    We don’t have all the answers, even if we do ask, seek, and knock. And that’s ok.
    Jackson isn’t afraid to ask questions about God. If I don’t know the answer, we check the Bible. If we can’t find it in the Bible, we pray about it. Even if we pray about it, we might still not know the answer, but Jackson is completely satisfied with this.

    Lord, I pray I can take the unanswered questions and situations in my life and simply accept them with Jackson’s childlike faith.

    The Bible is true.
    I’m in my Bible every day. But if I’m honest, sometimes I find myself doubting certain “stories”, usually those in the Old Testament. Jonah was seriously swallowed by a big fish? A burning bush, really? While I believe in God with all my heart, the Sunday school stories from my past sometimes leave me feeling a bit cynical. But Jackson.

    Jackson believes everything in the Bible. Every story, every tale, every word. He asks good questions about the material, but you can tell that he believes it all. One of the songs that he sings in church says, “The Bible, the Bible, the Bible is true” and I found myself almost in tears hearing him sing it in the car the other day. After I pulled myself together, I realized that some part of me had forgotten that the Bible, all of it, is true.

    Lord, I pray that I can always remember that all parts of the Bible are true and are for Your glory.

    God made everything.
    Jackson knows that God made everything. While this is easy for me to reconcile, because God did make everything, there is something about slowing down to actually notice God’s handiwork that Jackson is teaching me. Sometimes, we will just look out the window and Jackson will say, “Mama, did you know God made that tree? All of it – the bark and the leaves.” When I take the time to admire the bark, the tree, the insects, the wind blowing the tree, it is hard to not send up immediate prayers of gratitude and wonder. How wonderful to remember that God made that squirrel, that pond, that screaming 2 year old at the park. God made them, and God loves them.

    Jackson just knows this automatically, and slowing down to notice the parts of God’s creation is simply second nature to him. What a pleasure it is to take a walk with Jackson leading the way, reminding me to soak in all of God’s hard work.

    Lord, thank you for making everything, including me. I want to spend more time admiring what you have done than focusing on what I have to do for the day or week. Let me slow down, Lord.

    Heaven is going to be awesome.
    Jackson asks what will happen when I die, when my husband dies, when my mom dies. He asks where my Grandma Marjorie is, as he has heard so much about her but never met her. We talk candidly about heaven and it gives me permission to remember what the Bible says about heaven, and to get excited about it.

    When I talk to Jackson about how we will all be together with Jesus in heaven – Grandma Marjorie and all – I am reminded in the most beautiful way that this is not our home. I tell him all the time that heaven is going to be awesome – a huge party for Jesus, with everyone we know and love, without crying or worry. I feel closer to my Grandma Marjorie and to Jesus when I am lying in bed with Jackson, talking about heaven, than I do any other time of my day.

    Lord, thank you for bedtime stories about heaven with my boy. I cannot believe that you gave this little man to me, to let me be his Mama. Thank you for heaven, for angels, and for a home to go to after we die. We are so lucky to be loved by you and to be saved by you.

    When in doubt, pray.
    I pray a lot. When I’m having a trying day, it is not uncommon for me to beg for patience while making lunch, and asking for Jesus to come now. I love that Jackson sees this and I hope that it is teaching him that I am reliant on one thing only – Jesus.

    I see his relationship with God growing by watching, and hearing him pray. Even though Jackson doesn’t like to pray out loud before meals, it is not uncommon for him to ask me to pray with him when he is nervous or anxious about something. Just a few weeks ago he asked me to pray for him before he jumped in the swimming pool for his advanced swimming lessons. There we were, just talking to God and asking for courage in his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle swim trunks. I love that he knew that he couldn’t do his lessons by himself, that he needed God to pull him through.

    Lord, help me to not forget that I cannot get through life without You. I don’t want to go through life without You. Help my relationship with you be full of pool deck prayers.

    In Matthew, Jesus said, “let the little children come to me”. I can see why! Jackson’s unlimited faith teaches me something new daily. I am so thankful to be his Mama.

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