CHILDISH FAITH

CHILDISH FAITH

From Chicken Soup for the Christian Teenage Soul

Childish Faith

Faith is not belief without proof, but trust without reservation.

Elton Trueblood

“Chrissy! Chrissy! Abby’s gone!” My seven-year-old brother Matthew pounded on my bedroom door. Flinging it open, I found myself gazing into his frantic eyes. “We looked everywhere,” Matthew cried. “What if she got outside? Abby’s never been outside alone!”

Fear ran down my spine as I thought of the little black-and-white kitten we’d brought home only three days before. Abby was supposedly a family pet, but Matthew had formed a special bond with her. Now, as I stared at my brother’s tear-streaked face, I felt my heart break. He had lost his new best friend.

“Don’t worry. We’ll find her,” I said, trying to sound like a reassuring big sister. A tiny creature like Abby could be lost almost anywhere.

I led Matthew downstairs where we joined the rest of the family in turning the house upside down. We searched through closets, under couches, inside potted plants and anywhere else a kitten might hide. I kept praying that Abby would suddenly leap out and pounce on our ankles, but she never showed up.

“She must be outside,” I told Matthew. “Let’s go look.”

“You’ll never find her out there,” our older brother, Anthony, informed us. “She’s probably been eaten by a hawk or squashed in the road by now.” Sometimes he could be negative.

“Hush up!” I snapped, throwing him a sharp look. “Don’t listen to him,” I told Matthew. “Abby’s fine.”

“Okay,” Matthew replied. But I could tell he didn’t believe me.

Together, Matthew and I searched the soybean fields that surrounded our house. We slithered under the porch. We checked every tree in the yard. The sun set, and there was still no sign of our kitten.

“Will she be okay?” Matthew asked me, as I tucked him into bed that night.

“I don’t know,” I sighed. I had spent the entire evening trying to convince my brother that everything would be fine, yet I could no longer hide my disappointment. I was sure we’d never see Abby again.

Now Matthew tried to cheer me up. “We’ll find her,” he said, suddenly confident. “I’m gonna pray that Jesus lets her be here in the morning. How’s that?”

That’s crazy, I wanted to say, but I didn’t. Instead, I tucked the covers under Matthew’s chin. “Go ahead and pray,” I said, “but don’t get your hopes up.”

I tried not to show how doubtful I was, but Matthew saw right through me. “Jesus cares about kittens, too,” he insisted.

To make Matthew feel better, I knelt and listened to his simple, childish prayer. It was sweet, but it was obvious we’d been reading my brother way too many of those Christian bedtime stories in which children were constantly praying for and getting miracles. He had a lot to learn about the real world.

“Is Matthew asleep?” Mom asked when I came downstairs.

“Yeah,” I replied, staring at my feet. I missed having Abby chew on my socks.

“Oh, by the way,” I added, “don’t be surprised if your son doesn’t believe in God in the morning.”

“What do you mean?” Mom asked, surprised.

“Well, Matthew just prayed that God would send Abby back by tomorrow, and he really thinks it’s going to happen.”

“And you don’t?”

“Oh, please!” I exclaimed. “I’m not seven years old, Mom. I know God’s not a genie in some lamp you just rub and make a wish to.”

“No,” Mom agreed, “but He still cares about everything that concerns His children, no matter how small.”

“Sure, Mom,” I replied. “I’ll remember to tell Matthew that when he wakes up tomorrow and his kitten isn’t waiting to play with him.”

As I stalked out of the room, I heard my mother sigh. “Oh, Chrissy,” she whispered softly. “What’s happened to your faith?”

I tossed and turned trying to fall asleep. Visions of Abby’s whiskered face and Matthew’s trusting eyes swam through my head, along with my mother’s lingering words. What’s happened to your faith?

I rolled onto my stomach. I remembered when I was a child, how I used to pray about every little thing, from a broken toy to a rained-out picnic. What was it that I had back then that made me so quick to turn to God and so certain that He cared? Was it really ignorance, or was it faith?

I yanked the blanket over my head, trying to block the questions from my mind. After all, these were questions I had worked hard at erasing from my mind a long time ago. I wasn’t going to allow a kitten to bring them back.

I woke up early the next morning and rolled out of bed. I needed to be up in time to run damage control when Matthew realized his kitten was gone for good.

Suddenly, I felt something pounce on my foot. There was Abby, staring at me with her shining, green eyes. She let out a playful “meow” and tugged at my sock.

I lifted the tiny kitten in wonder, rubbing her furry face against my cheek. As happy as I was to find Abby safe, I was a bit overwhelmed. I felt guilty that I had spent half the night refusing to have faith that God would bring our kitten home.

Matthew!

Cradling Abby in my arms, I ran out of my bedroom and across the hall, where my brother was still asleep. Setting Abby on Matthew’s stomach, I watched her crawl across his chest and place a tiny paw on his cheek. Finally, he opened his eyes.

“Abby!” he yelled, throwing his arms around his precious pet. “Oh, Abby, I knew God would find you! Didn’t I tell you, Chrissy? Didn’t I?”

“You sure did,” I said, smiling.

“Now we need to thank Him,” Matthew reminded me. “We have to thank Jesus for taking care of our Abby.”

Matthew bowed his head and folded his hands, one finger resting on Abby’s tail. Now humbled, I followed his lead. I realized that although I was much older than my little brother, there was a lot I could learn from his innocent faith.

Christina Marie Dotson

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