I remember the first time I ever heard the term ‘poster child’. I was 10 years old, sitting in the living room with my mom and her friend waiting for Sunday dinner to be ready. They were discussing a picture on the back of a magazine where Easter Seals presented their poster child, encumbered by leg braces, and supported by metal crutches. Since then I’ve come to hear different nuances of that term ‘Poster Child”. They are the ‘Poster Child’ for discord, ‘Poster Child’ for medical mystery, ‘Poster Child’ for anger, ‘Poster Child’ for drama. I never hear ‘Poster Child’ for optimism, ‘Poster Child’ for human service, ‘Poster Child’ for – well anything good.
I’ve spent some time contemplating a ‘Poster Child’ designation, wondering what I could do to earn that designation. On April 7, 1986 the Los Angeles Times published a requirement for choosing the Easter Seals Poster Child. They need a special talent described as “a regular, delightful kid,” 6 to 12 years old, who has another, far more elusive talent–the ability to be happy and whole despite a physical disability.” There are no negative connotations in that description, in fact, it is the antithesis of negative. Here’s what I discovered. Faith. I want to be the Poster Child for Faith. How hard can it be, right?
Don’t I believe Proverbs 3:5-6? “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Faith works well when the path is straight, and plans are falling into place. But what if plans fall, and fall really hard? Suddenly I realize that wasn’t faith; that was fact. The road ahead is visible, the path is straight, I can see it. Hebrews 11:1 says “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”
I love it when I have a clear view of the future. I get enthused about projects that come with a plan. I’m motivated by forward progress. How about you? Do you give a little cheer when you check that task off your list? Or even better – when you throw the list away. Don’t we gain optimism and incentive from verses like Psalm 20:4 “May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.” I know I do. I’m all over that one! And I have no problem reminding God that he promised to do that. And God has no problem reminding me that the desires of my heart must first align with His. You know. Like Psalm 40:8 “I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart.”
When the road gets rocky and that once smooth path becomes a precarious obstacle course and there is nothing but brambles ahead, where is my faith then? Do I trust? Or do I find myself pulling out the ledger and noting the facts, the visible evidence of God’s blessings? Do I relinquish my faith? Or do I relinquish control and take the advice of Hebrews 4:7? “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts.”
I realize after much soul searching and introspection, that what my heart demands is authentic faith that needs no physical evidence that God is with me not just in the good times, but also the bad. What God promised me in the light is life navigated smoothly along visible, well maintained tracks, a few curves, a few hills, but not much deviation from plan. When the dark times come, when it’s impossible to predict why or what or how, when life feels like a train wreck, I have to keep believing. What God promised me in the light is still true in the dark.
Joshua 23:14 “You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.”
To be a Poster Child is a reward – a man-made, humanly designated reward. What my soul craves is not to be a Poster Child of Faith for human recognition, but to have a faith that pleases God. Hebrews 11:6 “It is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.”
So how about it. What do you want to be the ‘Poster Child’ for?