March 5, 2019

Faith, Pure and Simple

A living faith is something we see every day, if we look for it.

Carolyn Sutton

A fellow church member often brought a sweet little waif to church—and into my kindergarten class. Maggie* was maybe 6 years old. Apparently there was not much religion at her home, which was a single-wide mobile unit in some disrepair. Yet the child’s spirit was wide open to Bible stories. One week she brought a dirty stuffed animal to class because “my doggie wants to learn about Jesus,” she said. “Next time I’ll bring my little brother. He needs to know Jesus too.”

Right after school started, during our class’s brief (and wiggly) prayer time, Maggie asked, “Could we please pray that God will help me sit next to Annie on the bus? I was held back, and Annie went on to second grade. So the only time I can see her—and she’s my best friend—is on the bus. But there’s a big girl who pushes me away every day and sits by Annie.”

When I asked Maggie where she sat on the bus, she responded, “Up in front. By myself.” Her loneliness was palpable.

So that Sabbath morning Maggie, the other little kid in class, his mother, and I prayed for Maggie’s request. I hesitate to admit that I was halfway thinking, How can this prayer be answered? After all, this regards a whole school district’s transportation “machine”! Silently I prayed that God would somehow protect Maggie’s newfound faith in Him anyway.

Oh, me of minuscule faith! One month later, as I was trying to get the children’s Bible lesson underway, Maggie persistently raised her hand. “I need to tell y’all something.” Reluctantly pausing in my presentation, I nodded for her to speak. “Teacher, Jesus answered my prayer about Annie. That big girl was put on another bus, so now I get to sit by my best friend every day.”

I should not have been rendered speechless, but for a moment I was.

God had not only honored the pure, simple trust of a little girl—He’d also reminded a big girl of how she must receive the kingdom of God: in full assurance of a little girl’s faith.

Another Girl, Another Story

My printer had apparently “died” the previous Friday. For several hours I had rebooted, pulled out—and pushed back in—various machine components, repeatedly pressed the Go button, and swished the toner cartridge. The printer would come on and make promising whirs and gear snaps until the Ready light flashed on. So far, so good. But when I pressed the Go button, the printer function was clearly a “no go.”

To make matters worse, I was at a crunch time in a large editing project and desperately needed my printer. “Well, it’s at least 5 or 6 years old,” mused my husband, “and has had a lot of use. We’ll get a new one if we have to.” (The going price for our particular printer model is around $375—up almost $200 from when we made the first purchase.)

Sabbath morning came. That’s when I heard little Maggie’s amazing testimony. I came home in tearful awe of God’s response to a child’s faith. After lunch I wanted to jot down Maggie’s prayer experience before I forgot it. When I sat down to write, however, the nonproductive printer in the corner of my home office was in my direct line of vision. Sigh!

Long-ago words from my late maternal grandmother quietly came to mind. The last nine years of her life—and the first nine of mine—she lived with us and would repeat a bit of counsel whenever I complained about unanswered prayer. “Honey, after you pray, you have to stand back and give God time and space to work.”

So that Sabbath afternoon I prayed, “Lord, You know how badly I need a printer right now. In the midst of this deadline scramble I sense You challenging me to a deeper trust in You. After all, if You can change a district school bus schedule because of one child’s faith, You can deal with a malfunctioning printer. I promise to stay out of Your way until tomorrow night. If it doesn’t work then, I’ll assume that it’s time for us to look into getting a new one.”

All day Sunday I worked on my editing project and sent repeated print commands—though I left the actual printer turned off. At 9:50 that evening I again thanked God for His good and sovereign will while connecting my laptop to the printer. Then I pushed the power button. Its whirring and gear-snapping began. The Ready light flashed on, just as it always had the previous day when malfunctioning.

“Lord, give me a child’s faith in Your will as I press this Go button,” I prayed. “The paper tray is full. Help me trust in the goodness and wisdom of Your response, whatever it may be.”

More whirring and grinding.

“It’s all Yours, Lord. I’m leaving now to take the folded linen to the hallway cupboard.”

Midstep outside the office door I stopped. Unmistakable sounds of swishing paper being ejected into the printer tray brought me running. All the project papers for which I’d sent the print signal throughout the day were energetically popping up through the ejection slit. I literally ran into the bedroom to find my husband, where I proclaimed the exciting news. Together we rejoiced.

Jesus once said, “Anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (Luke 18:17).

“Dear Lord, as Your final deadline approaches for a world around us that continues to malfunction, help us draw near to you ‘with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings’ [Heb. 10:22]. Amen.”

*Not her real name.

Carolyn Sutton lives with her husband, Jim, in Dayton, Tennessee. Carolyn, a cancer survivor, is a retired educator and served as an editor of Guide magazine.

Carolyn Sutton
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