Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14)
How many questions does a child ask in a day? An hour? A single minute? I’m not sure of an exact number but I am sure that there are hundreds of questions asked over the course of a day. Multiply that by the number of children that reside in your house and that could equal a whole lot of conversation! I know that the four I have keep me thinking, and perhaps a lot of the time, just answering questions mindlessly. The older they get, the more attentive I find myself, probably because I view their need for advice or information more seriously. After all, they won’t want my opinion forever. I’m scared that’s the way I’ve viewed spiritual questions also.
The last few months I’ve been thinking about the minds of our children. What goes on in their heads? What questions run through there that they may voice only to have them lost in the monotony of all the other things that need to know at the moment? I wonder how many important teaching moments I may have missed because I had lost focus in the midst of a barrage of sentences that begin with mom and end in a question mark. I’ve always felt children are capable of experiencing God in ways much deeper than we aware of.
I began reading a book that is filled with the accounts of children who have met with Jesus in very special ways. They have been filled with wisdom that only comes from face to face encounters with the Saviour, they have taken adventures with Him, and been delivered of all sorts of fears and anxieties. As I was reading how one child shared knowledge about a country she had never heard of before her adventure with Jesus, I realized something that had been in my heart for a long, long time: we send our children off to color pictures because we believe that’s all they’re capable of and give them very shallow answers to their questions when really God wants us to encourage them to open their hearts and minds to Him.
He wants to teach them and heal them and encourage them. He wants to reveal His life plan for them and give them wisdom that goes beyond their years. Kids have great imaginations and I believe that scares us. We’re scared to create an environment that will allow young hearts to come in contact with Him because they may experience Him in a way we don’t understand. I’ve never felt comfortable with keeping children out of worship services or prayer meetings, citing that it’s ‘above their heads’, when really its because we don’t want them to interrupt our time with God. It’s not above them. We serve a God who wants to engage us all, no matter the age. In fact, I believe that children learn so much by observing how we interact with Him, how we show love and adoration, it becomes natural for them to follow.
What if, instead of waiting until our children grow to an age that we feel is appropriate for knowledge, we encouraged them to sit and listen for Gods voice right now? At this very moment. And what if, we listened when they shared with us what they felt He was saying to them? What if we traded what we were comfortable with for what He wants to give them and allowed God to lead their minds and change their hearts? It’s a challenge I’m accepting, one that I’m beginning to take very seriously. I want my children, and the children in our church, to be fully aware of how special and important they are to the God of the universe, the One who loves them fiercely, and the One who has a purpose for their lives.