How Little Francis Taught Me A Lesson


Really, the title of this post should be "How God Taught Me a Lesson Through Little Francis." It’s funny—I wrote the story of Little Francis Falls Asleep years ago, but through the process of updating the text and drawing new illustrations for it, I really felt the message of the book affect me anew.  What message is that, you may ask? Well, you might call it a message of self-forgetfulness. 

Like every one of us one way or another, I have a tendency to try to find my ultimate identity in things other than God —to seek my life’s ultimate validation in what I personally make or do. It’s the result of what author and pastor Tim Keller calls spiritual pride:

...the illusion that we are competent to run our own lives, achieve our own sense of self-worth and find a purpose big enough to give us meaning in life without God.

And I can tell you firsthand, that kind of mindset is toxic; it sneaks up on you and often results in a gnawing, empty feeling—a craving to feel better than other people and be successful in the eyes of the world.

And the antidote? The antidote is not to work hard or to engage in “religious” activities in order to prove you’re a good person. No, the antidote is to remember who you really are: a person who is totally dependent on God, a sinner who God loves so much that he died on the cross to forgive. In Jesus, then, we have an identity that cannot be taken from us, despite even our own failures and screw-ups. As the Apostle Paul says in Galatians 3:26: Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.

That’s an incredible status: children of God. The very sons and daughters of the one who made the universe! And that identity is freely given to us in Jesus, not because of our own hard work, but because of his overflowing generosity, love, and kindness.

In a sense, that’s the lesson little Francis learns when he stops trying ridiculous folk remedies to find rest, and instead turns his mind and heart toward the God of the universe. When we look to the cross, toward the God who loves us and cares for us, then we find true rest. Then we remember who we really are—when we stop concentrating on ourselves and focus primarily on God. This is what Tim Keller calls “gospel-humility, blessed self-forgetfulness.” And, perhaps surprisingly, it is then that we feel most happy, most at peace, and most ourselves.




Born and raised in Southern California, Pip Craighead has been a lifelong student of film and literature. He's continually fascinated by the power of art and story as ways to experience the wonder of God and his creation—and this fascination is evident in Pip’s new children's book, Little Francis Falls Asleep.