Monday, February 18, 2013

Jesus Loves the Little Children


Come on in, y'all! 

Remember when it used to be all about you?  You as a single woman, or you two as a married couple?  When you would have friends over for a meal and no little people would tug on your company's jeans and ask to show her doll collection or Sesame Street lunchbox?  Or read Green Eggs and Ham together?  Or watch the little one sing a new song?  Remember how you would linger over the meal discussing careers, relationships, football, God?  You didn't excuse yourself from the table to wipe mouths, remove bibs, and disappear to put babies down for the night?



I remember those days, and yet, I am different now.  I am a Mother.  I have two amazing daughters, 2.5 and 14 months.  And my girls are a part of our home, our family.  They are a part of me.  

Have you ever tried to minimize your children in front of others, especially friends without children who might not "understand"?  Have you tried to shoo them away like a fly, quiet down their requests so they might not bother your guests?  Been embarrassed of a toddler's excitement and eagerness to engage your friends?

I have.  I am sad to admit it.  And I failed my own children.

After the fact, Jesus' approach to little children came rushing to mind. 

"People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them.  When Jesus saw this, he was indignant.  He said to them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them." Mark 10:13-16

The text calls them "little children", which perfectly identifies my children, ages 2 and below.  If the kids in this story were 5, 6 years old and above, wouldn't they simply be called, "children"?  They also would not require people to "bring them" to Jesus.  I imagine mothers and fathers, grandparents and neighbors bringing squirmy babies and active toddlers up to see Jesus.  Some were sitting on his lap, giggling and others were likely gathered around him, tugging on his robe, stroking his hair or beard, whispering secrets in his ear.  Another was showing him a treasured rock or flower petal, or twirling around for Jesus to see and praise.

I see Jesus looking straight into the little ones' eyes while listening to stammering sentences and silly songs.  It says he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them. 

He wrapped his arms around the small people and told the big people that he was busy right now.

In that moment, He made it clear that talking with the little children was more important than talking with the adults.

Ahem.  What a shift.

If I could have his sense of value and priority, I would realize that my children are not nuisances. They are not sent here to keep their father and me from having long, serious dinner parties. They are not to be hidden or shuffled away or "hindered", as it says.  



They are God's heart, at the center of his kingdom.  And when I, or others, look deeply into their eyes and care about an Elmo doll or a game of peek-a-boo, we are being Christ to them.  Their greatest need is to be loved.  They want to feel secure and wanted.  This is why Jesus took them in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.  He knew how to communicate his love and their worth, security, and value -- through a hug, kind words, and undivided attention.

I feel I do offer much of this to my children throughout the day.  But when others are with my children, I think I haven't understood my role as my child's advocate, first and primary teacher, and helper.  If an adult seems uninterested in a simple request of my little child, I instinctively want to whisk her away from the adult, so she will not be a bother.  But if to Jesus she is not a bother!, how can I advocate for her little heart, teach her in that moment and perhaps also teach the adult about the worth of a little soul?  How can I bridge the gap?  

{Because I know that while my child may seem to want to the moon, all she really wants is about 30 seconds of genuine eye contact from one of Mommy's or Daddy's friends, and she will be over the moon.}  

I will look her in the eye.  I will not make extra threats of discipline to corral her behavior in the presence of guests.  I will not treat others as more important than she.  I will remember that "anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it."

And maybe as I remember my children's place in God's kingdom and around our dinner table, our friends may see and understand, and with arms outstretched, bless our children, too. 


"Don't you see that children are God's best gift? the fruit of the womb his generous legacy? Like a warrior's fistful of arrows are the children of a vigorous youth. Oh, how blessed are you parents, with your quivers full of children! Your enemies don't stand a chance against you; you'll sweep them right off your doorstep." 
Psalm 127:3-5 (The Message)

"Blessed are all who fear the Lord,
who walk in obedience to him...

your children will be like olive shoots
around your table.

Yes, this will be the blessing
for the man who fears the Lord."

Psalm 128:1, 3-4

3 comments:

Susan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan said...

How precious is your blog, spoken from the heart of a loving mom.

heathernelson said...

Beautiful and thought-provoking. Thank you for your heart, as always. So glad you're writing again!

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