"Not everyone’s gonna believe, but that’s OK. They’ll get there when they get there." 10-year-old Anna Beam, when facing skepticism about her miraculous cure (Miracles from Heaven, 2016).
There is much time and money spent on positioning for our belief. This is politics. And some types of marketing. And almost all cable news. At worst, it's propaganda. At best, just groups of people drawing very tight circles around their perceptions. We all believe something even beyond that of public policy or personal consumption, we believe something about life's biggest questions, about meaning. As Tim Keller notes about faith, even non-belief is belief in something. We commit our lives somewhere, to a certain set of beliefs.
"I want to believe." The poster hangs in Fox Mulder's office in the TV Show the X-Files, depicting his insatiable quest for truth.
I recently co-taught a Sunday school class with my wife. We read an except from Heaven is for Real, the account of one child's sneak peek into the afterlife. We asked the kids what they thought about account. One young man raised his hand and said, "Here is a fun fact, that book is totally made up. His Dad made him say it." Not the start to class we were expecting. We redirected the conversation from the authority of the book to what they thought heaven might be like. They excitedly talked over each other for the next 15 minutes. The kids painted a fantastic image of what heaven might be, a glimpse:
- gardens and grass
- raindbows and trees
- people from history
- throne for Jesus
- extinct animals
- waterfalls and wildlife
- big churches and the disciples
- music and flowers
- light all the time
- no fear or sickness
- large temple insidea golden kingdom
One young man schrunched his forehead, widened his eyes, and responded as if he'd given deep thought to the question many times before. "There would be a long table. There is food and drink. The table just keeps getting bigger as more people come. Anyone can come. The food never runs out. No one feels like they shouldn't be there." And we're left speechless, kids teaching us extraordinary faith.
In this age of internet paranoia and fear-based revoluations, the innocent hope of children is refreshing, like waterfalls and wildlife. In Matthew 18, it's recorded that Jesus said unless we embrace the humility and faith of children, we'd never see the kingdom of heaven. I think pure belief children bring was refreshing for him too, like rainbows and trees.
"Ya gotta believe." The rallying cry of the '73 Mets prompting a late summer tear back into contention.
When I'm approach the tee box, I'm hoping the ball doesn't careen off a tree or another player, imagining that it might. I don't believe that I'll hit it 300 yards down the middle of the fairway. And most times, I don't. The worst part of my golf game and, at times my life, is my unbelief.
A child's imagination constantly reshapes what is into what could be, like having a table that only grows with provision in a world of hungry people. Jesus often made a point to recognize the faith of others. Notable faith almost always preceeded miracles. I wonder if that's why Anna Beam was healed. Or the Mets climbed back into contention.
Author Donald Miller said "One of the things that gives me hope is that even with all the tragedy that happens in the world, the Bible says that when we get to heaven there will be a wedding and there will be [celebration] and there will be dancing." This, I believe.