What Parts of My Childhood Faith Must I Leave Behind?

I stole this question. From this article in Relevant which was taken from Shauna Niequist’s book Bittersweet. It got me reminiscing about what it was like to be a Christian as a four year old, then a 14-year-old and how those pictures should look the same now, at age 24, and how they should be slightly—or drastically—different.

My faith at age four: I have vague memories of the classic thick, white, illustrated Bible that simplified the stories of Noah, Jesus and healing the blind man. God was my grandfather—a kind man who watched me from somewhere just outside the earth’s atmosphere, where Heaven was located. Prayers went to him in the form of smoke, and he inhaled it all from everybody. He didn’t sleep much.

My faith at 14: Thanks to a wise and encouraging youth minister, I began reading my Bible on my own time. I realized that being a preacher’s daughter did not ensure my knowledge of all things Biblical. A disheartening yet wonderful realization. But God didn’t really get my burning desire for popularity, acceptance and attention. And I hadn’t suffered much heartache or difficult loss, so I didn’t need him. I liked reading about Him though.

Two decades from first cracking the classic white Bible and some leftovers of my childhood faith are beginning to rot, begging for maturity:

Moreso than kind, God is sovereign. You can disagree, but that sovereignty does not always look kind on this earth. And God has everything to do with my burning desires for acceptance from people, attention and success, the grown-up word for popularity. I can’t want those and Him simultaneously. Something has to give.

A childlike faith is just as crucial as it is debilitating.

And a tree whose roots never spread below topsoil will easily sway then fall.

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19 thoughts on “What Parts of My Childhood Faith Must I Leave Behind?

  1. I don’t know if you’ve seen it, because it’s several years old now, but Philip Yancey had a very interesting book called “The Jesus I never Knew,” which asks and examines a similar question to the one you wrote about. Thanks for the insight…keep the faith.

    Peace,

    Chris

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      1. You did a wonderful job, you obviously have some of your Dad’s talent.
        It has been a long time (Philip Yancey) for me also; he is a powerful illustrator.

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  2. Great post! Stumbled upon this as a retweet from your dad 😉
    As a pastor’s daughter I appreciated the realisation that you had about biblical knowledge … it’s amazing the things I learn daily =)

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  3. I’ve given up a lot of the certainty I had in childhood – particularly the idea that I know what God is up to and how He works in the world. I’m hesitant, these days, to claim that I know what He’s doing. And I think that forces me to trust Him more (and also to be a little more humble).

    It’s hard to acknowledge that God’s sovereignty doesn’t always make sense to us – but important, I think. Great post, Andrea.

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  4. Thanks for the post, Andrea. As a child, I used to always think and trust that God does everything good, and that He will always give us the good things and not things that might hurt us. Now at 32, I sometimes find myself scared of what trials God might give me. Instead of focusing on the goodness of God, I’m looking out for the next test from God. I kinda miss the way I expect things from God as a child. But I have to always remind myself that God is good, all the time. And that the Bible says, Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.

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  5. Love this very honest perspective. Also interesting as I watch my own 12 and 14 year olds mature in their own faith. It’s a process. And while the “kind God” image may feel better, personally I believe the “sovereign God” truth lives better. So thankful, most days, that He’s in control. On those other days, I’m sure you can guess who I’d like to have in control. 🙂

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  6. My parents are not pastors but my family has been involved in ministry for as long as I can remember. I remember the 1st time I gave my life to Christ after a puppet ministry presentation, I think I was 5 yrs old. It has taken me a while to come to realize that some of the things that have hindered my walk stemmed from the ‘legalistic’ background in which I was brought up. I rebeled against it during my teenage years. Then when I truly gave my life to God I tried to conform but I just couldn’t. Since then I have found myself maneuvering through the legalism that was (with good intention) ingrained in my head to reach the grace which God has shown & made real in my life and that we should show others. My comfort lies in that God is the same yesterday, today & forever; even though I may change, His Word endures forever and it says that He loves me. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thank YOU. I’ve noticed a pattern: those raised in hindering legalism are seeing Christ for who he is–one that did away with legalism–and are rising up to be some of the strongest Christian leaders today. That’s hopeful!

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  7. Andrea, your words are both blessing and challenge to me. Your picture, albeit outdated :), still hangs on my fridge. Love and hugs!

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