Elise Arsenault | Reporter
A Reflection on Childlike Faith
Josh has the cheekiest grin. It’s a Cheshire Cat kind of smile that takes up half his face, and it always precedes a borderline inappropriate comment or brilliant remark. Josh is 10 years old and he laughs with his shoulders. He has the word “CAMP” shaved into the back of his white-blond buzz cut, and daily colours it in with a blue marker to keep it legible. Josh has a firm handshake and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. It is the summer of ’13, and my co-leader Damon and I (temporarily named “Boombox”) will be caring for him and four other boys for two weeks at Ontario Pioneer Camp. Truth is, we don’t quite know what to expect from Josh, but it’s not long before we learn.
For one thing, Josh feasts on attention. He is soon renowned for his ability to shout something bonkers precisely when the group falls silent before announcements or prayer. He is quirky in his habits and 'phases.' For example, one day he only speaks in rhyme. Another, he decides to wear every single one of his shirts — all at once. He is incredibly intelligent. He carries around an intricate Rubik’s Cube-esque fidget toy that he flicks back and forth into complex shapes and patterns whenever he grows bored. He has an extensive knowledge of the world, the army, and the Bible. Though often leaving us frustrated, exhausted and/or embarrassed, most often Josh leaves us speechless.
My favourite example of this takes place toward the end of our last week. We are heading back to our sections after dinner to prepare for a camp-wide game (likely a version of “capture the flag”), when a quick head count leaves us short by one camper — one Josh, to be precise. I turn around and immediately spot him standing in the middle of the parking lot, staring up at the sky with his mouth open and his arms to his sides. I call him over, but he doesn’t acknowledge me. I try again and walk towards him, all leader-like, deciding on the best behavioural strategy to apply to the situation.
“Boombox,” he says, without looking away, “I see a star.”
Now, it’s just after dinner so the sky is bright and blue in hue. I begin to tell him that and yet—
“I see a star. Look harder.” So there I stand, open-mouthed and floppy-armed, squinting to humour him when — I see it. It’s teeny, but it’s bright and completely still. It’s not a plane, or a cloud, or a bird, and soon Damon wanders over with intrigue. Without looking away, we prod him to squint for himself — he sees it too. After being silent for some time, he says something along the lines of:
“You know, bud, you pay attention to things a lot of people miss.”
It is so true. I quickly notice, however, the irony of the statement. Here stands a boy who supposedly has a deficiency in being attentive, yet his catching a glimpse of that odd star points to the opposite! We wait for Josh to say something, but he shrugs and skips away instead. I later made a comment about naming that star after him, to which he responded:
“God already has a name for that star, Boombox.”
You’re right, Josh. You’re so right.
Now, why do I share this story? Partially because I’m camp-sick, and partially because I think we should be reminded of a few things this guy exemplifies. The themes are no mystery, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t golden:
Whether it’s 12 hours of rhyme-time or sporting 12 shirts at once, we ought to have moments of silliness. There’s a quirky side to us for a reason, and indulging it every once in a while does some good for the soul.
Just as Josh noticed a day-star, we ought to challenge what challenges us and invite others to do the same — even when they’re stubborn and leader-like.
Just as God wakes each star by their name, so he knows yours; so he calls yours, and so he delights in yours. He takes pride in you and your understanding of his promises.
Childlike faith is something Jesus stresses in the gospels. Not only does He take pleasure in us becoming like children, but He deems it a necessity if we are looking to enter His Kingdom! He tells us that believing as a child means having whole trust, giddy devotion and sky-high anticipation to see the heavenly eclipse the earthly. This is His heart’s desire as our Abba, and our heart’s design as His beloved.
Josh’s stories help me to remember these things. I hope that, even now, you’re recalling stories and names closer to home that help you to remember. Let’s yield to these reminders together — as they pull at our pant-legs and petition for piggy-backs — and take them to heart.