In our new-parent zeal for baby milestones, we spent hours staring at our newborn just to see what she might do next.
I used to lean over a sprawled out Olivia, cooing, “How much does mommy love her baby girl?” Then, I would answer the question myself as I picked up her tiny arms, flinging them outward: “Mommy loves Olivia THIS big!”
It was a startle reflex, of course, that caused Olivia to spread her arms and legs wide at the exact moment that I squealed. I’m sure that some logical part of me knew that I was witnessing an ordinary phenomenon called the Moro reflex. (It’s when babies respond to sudden movement by throwing back their heads, extending arms and legs, crying out, then curling up again.) But when Olivia did it, I was sure it was a pent-up declaration of love for me.
The Moro reflex happens when an infant feels like she is falling–the fear of which most experts believe all humans are born with. We’re all born afraid to fall, yet a glance at the picture above will reveal a child in joyous rapture as she is being launched at the sky by her taller-than-average father.
So how does Olivia go from startling at sudden movements, even from the safety of the ground, to laughing gleefully as she is tossed into the trees?
How do you and I go from jolting at every bump in life’s road to resting easy, joyfully even, no matter how far down the ground seems to be?
NOT mechanically shouting faith words through a hoarse voice–raspy from trying to prove belief and conceal doubt. What good is it to understand the power of words if you do not trust the heart of God?
NOT praying, “Lord, if it be thy will” with ankles shaking and hands clenched–too scared to ask for what has been freely offered. How sad to realize the peace that comes through submission only to miss out by selling the promises of God short!
Faith can’t be mustered up any more than fear can be wrestled into compliance.
What happens when I speak words of faith because I’m afraid of what might happen if I don’t? What if I stay silent out of fear that believing and speaking won’t make a difference?
Fear just finds a new mask.
Matthew 12:34 says, “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”
Can a heart full of fear speak faith? Not any more than a deceitful heart can tell the truth.
When we try to draw faith from a well of fear it’s like picking rotting fruit from a bad tree or writing a hot check on an account in default.
Only perfect love casts out fear. Faith comes, not just by hearing, but by receiving the Word of God (I John 4:18; Romans 10:16-21). We hear the good news about Jesus and accept the words as we embrace the One who speaks them.
How can Olivia, afraid of falling since birth, smile as she’s thrown into the air?
She learned firsthand that her father’s hands are the safest place to be.
How can I rest easy in the most fearful of situations?
Only by getting to know my Father so well that I can’t imagine Him ever dropping me.
Faith comes through relationship, and that only happens face to face. I find God’s ability and willingness to come through for me in His written Word, the self-told story of His constant love. In Jesus made flesh, I see perfect dependability and a spotless track record. In the presence of God’s Spirit–always with me and in me–I discover unfailing faithfulness.
Now I am a tree, rooted in Jesus and bearing good fruit.
I write checks on an account in solid standing: backed by the One who built the bank and based on His enduring promises.
I speak faith-filled words, and they are drawn from a well of deep trust.
When I pray, “Your will be done,” I’m running toward God’s sovereignty, not away from His promises.
I come to Jesus as I did the very first time: like a child, with simple belief. I recognize that He is the basis for my faith and the only rightful source of its expression.
Jesus is both the Author and the object of faith. When I’ve experienced his faithfulness intimately, I can’t help but declare my trust in Him!
Face to face with Jesus, the living Word, I find real faith.