Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book to review on this blog.
When I was approved to review for Tyndale House Publishers that I got so excited that I chose the first book that I saw that was by a familiar name. When I saw the name R. C. Sproul I quickly requested that book. Mainly because R.C. Sproul and John Piper are two of the main reasons that I went to seminary. Because reading their books showed me, how much I did not know about God. Their books motivated me to go to get formal training because I wanted to be able to strengthen other people’s faith as they had strengthened mine. This was important because in undergraduate my faith was being challenged as unintellectual non-sense. And books by R.C. Sproul and John Piper gave me the backbone to be able stand in those classrooms and although I did not know how to answer their challenges at the time, I knew where to go to get my answer intelligently answered.
However, when this book arrived, I then noticed that there was a Jr. attached to end of the name. I became skeptical for two reasons. 1.) Because the sequel is hardly ever as good as the original and 2.) As I started to read the book, the guy was calling me to be more like a child. And Matthew 10:16, kept going through my head, “”Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. “
And then it happened, on page 42, he directly addresses my main concern about Matthew 10:16. The author said these words directly to me, “Let me be clear: the call to be trusting, to be guileless like children, is not an invitation to allow ourselves to be hurt. I am well aware that the Bible not only calls us to be like children, but it calls us to be “wise as serpents, and harmless as doves”. There are genuine dangers out there that we and our children need to be aware of. There, are, on the other hand, times when our trust is betrayed, when we are hurt precisely because we have trusted. We have to make choices, and although our broader culture pushes us in the direction of doubt, God calls us to deeper trust” (page 42).
The author then goes on to give an example of Thomas Aquinas. Which is also an example of how the author addressed my first concern. I was afraid that R.C. Sproul Jr. would write just like his dad, but not as well. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find the R.C. Sproul Jr’s strengths were to me, his dad’s weaknesses. When reading his father, it was often mentally exhausting and I would often have to look up words. I remember one time listening to him at a conference and thinking to myself, “I think, I should think this message is really amazing.” However, his son, not only would he make his father proud with this book, makes it easy to understand what he wants us to know by giving us very practical examples in this book. None better than the illustration that we get in chapter 8.
This chapter to me was the best chapter of the book and greatly solidified the image of loving God like a child, that the author wanted us to get. In this chapter, he shares with us how his daughter was diagnosed with lissencephaly, which literally means smooth brain. This chapter convicted me because I can see myself responding in the same manner as the author originally did when he told his parents what was going on.
When his father asked him how he was doing, he responded, “Dad, I have been preparing for this moment my entire life. There is no faith on the planet that more strongly affirms the sovereignty of God than the Christian faith. We know this did not catch God by surprise. We know that Shannon, Denise, and I all rest in His loving hands. We will, by His grace and in His power, be able to manage” (page 136).
To me this sounded like the perfect response and one that I hoped that I would articulate under similar circumstances. However, here is where he punches me in the gut. “God did not sustain me and my family in the midst of this great hardship. It was not even true that He had ordained such a hard providence. What we came to discover was something far more profound, something far more astonishing, far more gospel infused. Shannon…. was , as He had promised, a profound blessing , a gift, a source of immeasurable joy. Neither Shannon nor her illness was a burden to be carried; they are a blessing to be received. The God of surprises, not being a tame lion, showered us with His love, in and through His servant Shannon” (136-137).
Not only did the author learn a valuable lesson on what it looked like to love God like a child through the life of this precious little girl he is now able to open the eyes of others like me that need to see things a blessing and to worship God with full trust.
An example that has occurred in my life since reading this book that I think will illustrate what God has showed me in this book occurred while I was at a Winter Jam Concert. I was standing there theologically examining each in every song that this band was playing. Which I often do because I want to sing good theology to God, not lies about our creator. However, out of the corner of my eye I caught this precious seven-year-old girl having the time of her life jumping up in down sing praises to her God. Now which one of us was bringing more glory to God in the moment?
I undoubtedly could explain to gospel clearer than this little girl could and I can read a passage out of a Greek New Testament better than she could do in English. However, in that moment all of my theological training was not helping me love God, it was this little seven year old girl was showing me what it looked like to love God like a child.
Now just like the author of this book I am not minimalizing the importance of good theology because the right thoughts about God lead you to be able to better trust God like a child as this book is calling us to do. I am just saying that, if I get caught up in the little things of God, sometimes I might miss out on the bigger picture that God has in store for me just like how the Pharisees, knew the law, but completely missed the one who came to fulfill the law. The call to trust like children is the call to trust our heavenly father. And the best way to learn to trust him is by studying his character and resting in His love for us.