It was one of those opportunities we pray for as parents, a moment when we can teach our children that God answers our prayers; and I almost messed it up. Thankfully, those opportunities can be just as much for parents' learning faith as for children.
One recent summer, my financially motivated 4-year-old son was proudly toting around four shiny quarters he’d earned doing tough manual labor with his grandma. He kept them in his pocket all day (except for when he was showing them off), so it was inevitable that he should lose them at some point, especially since there was a trampoline involved. It was then that our trampoline became the gateway to the aforementioned golden opportunity for me to learn to exercise faith.
He came to me holding just one of his prized quarters, and with giant tears spilling out of his sad blue eyes exclaimed, “Mommy, my quarters are gone!” I quickly told him that even though he didn’t know where those quarters were, his Father in Heaven sure did, and if he said a prayer and kept looking for those quarters, God would help him find them. Relief flooded his features, and he ran outside.
I watched from the kitchen window as he skipped outside and knelt in the grass to pray about his important lost quarters. Watching him pray filled me with joy and an excited warmth as I remembered the lost keys, gum and even the old pink retainer I had prayed about in my youth, each time being led right to them after my faith-filled prayers.
Then, he got up to continue looking, and the warm fuzzies vanished instantly. Doubt hit full force. What if he doesn’t find his quarters? What will I tell my son? How will I teach him to have faith in God if we can’t find those blasted quarters? I ran outside to help in the search. We quickly recovered two, one from the grass immediately in front of the trampoline, and one on top of it. We got on our hands and knees and began the hunt for the last one. I knew that elusive quarter was out there somewhere, and I was not going to let my son down in his faith-building moment. I was going to find that quarter.
Using all my powers of logic and deductive reasoning, I gave myself a search area within which I thought I’d likely find the quarter. I thought about things like trajectory, velocity and the mass of the quarter — seriously advanced stuff. I had a small thought, for a moment, that maybe I should check underneath the trampoline, but I laughed it away. Directly under the trampoline was one place I was sure that quarter couldn’t have got to.
I continued to widen my search area in progressively bigger circles. I had covered quite a lot of ground. I prayed as I went. Please God, help me help my son. Help us find this quarter, help him to know you answer our prayers. The problem was, I wanted God to help me find the quarter where I thought it should be. I wasn't asking where to look, I was asking for it to be placed where I wanted to look. I was, in fact, trying to teach my son about faith while exhibiting none myself.
Lucky for me God was prepared for both my son’s faith, and my lack of it. I was about to throw in the towel when that little irrational thought came to me again. Check under the trampoline. Swallowing the pride I had in my careful calculations, I started a new search area, one that circled farther and farther in until I was directly under the center of the trampoline, the place I knew that quarter couldn’t be. There it was. I could almost hear God laughing. He authored the laws of physics for crying out loud, what did I really know?
That quarter bounced out of my son’s pocket on the trampoline and with an unfathomable trajectory bounced under the trampoline right to the center. It was at that moment I was taken back to the basics of true faith. There are some things we know and our intellects can do much for us, but in the end, we need to trust God’s love, his wisdom, and most of all his guidance.
In this confusing and enormously complex world, we’re all just a bunch of kids looking for our quarters. He can lead us through and to anything, no matter the difficulty, no matter the destination. He can even lead us under the center of the trampoline, especially if it will teach us the value of true faith.
Rachel Larsen owns and operates the Busy Bugs Preschool, and has been a Love and Logic facilitator for the past five years. She lives in Sandy, Utah, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org