Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Let the Children Come

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

Throughout the month of December, in the midst of tree trimmings and family gatherings and stockings overflowing with candy, the Lord has continually pressed one idea upon my heart: these days with my little ones are so very precious. This earthly life is so fleeting anyway, and as any parent will agree, children grow up too quickly. Don shared that one of his coworkers was surprised when, at his six year old daughter's birthday party, someone told him, "Congratulations, you're one third of the way through!" While parenting is in many ways a life-long job, these years of raising young children are a special time that we can never get back. Our children's beliefs, values, and character are being formed and molded before our eyes each day. With Hayden recently turning three, Donny turning five, and Lydia reaching the half-year mark, I am reminded that they will not be little forever, and I must cherish each day that the Lord graciously gives me with them. A verse from the poem "Song for a Fifth Child" by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton has been echoing through my mind:

The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
For children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

So in recent weeks, I have been more mindful to savor the moments of nursing my smiley baby Lydia, or hugging my snuggly Hayden, or learning the intricate imaginations of Donny's five year old mind. Yet today the Lord convicted me, as He has in the past, of missing opportunities, not to merely enjoy my children, but to teach them to love his Word. After a few years of reading children's Bibles, I read through Mark and Acts with the boys, reading a half chapter or more before they went to bed each night. After Lydia arrived, we struggled to finish the final chapters of Paul's journeys chronicled in Acts. And now that Don is working evenings again and Hayden requires a nebulizer treatment before bed, I often find that I don't "feel like" reading a Bible story. Sometimes there are dishes to wash and diapers to change, other days it's just too late by the time the boys have jammies on and teeth brushed, many days Lydia is fussy right at the time they are getting ready for bed, but whatever the excuse, regular scheduled Bible time continually gets pushed aside.

With this in mind tonight, while Hayden sat on the couch breathing in his asthma medication, I opened up his children's Bible and raised my voice over the loud hum of the nebulizer machine to read, "Jesus loves the little children." While I read the rhyming words of the toddler storybook, I envisioned the scene I have read so many times in the familiar passage from Mark:

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

If you have children, or have ever met one, you know that their presence is not always desirable. If they are anything like some children I know, they will interrupt your conversations, wake up when you want to sleep, crowd your bed or lap or personal space, and pound the bathroom door the second you lock it behind you, insisting that they have to go "right now!" They assault your ears with bickering and repetitive songs, your eyes with messy faces and messy bedrooms, and your nose with noxious diapers and garlic hommus breath. And yet, Jesus - God Himself! - told His disciples to bring those little people to His arms. He put His gentle Hands on them, never averting His eyes from their uncombed hair or despairing over their childish antics, and held them up as an example of faith for us. He commanded us to let the children come to Him. And how, I wonder, can I obey this command unless I take their hands and lead them to His loving arms?

Father God, how often do I miss an opportunity to bring my children before you! When I am too busy, too self-absorbed, too discouraged by their disobedience and noise and mess, you still want them to come to you. You see in children that something that I only catch a glimmer of during their before-meal prayers or their peacefully sleeping faces: an uncompromised faith and trust in you. Let me remember that always, and cherish each moment with them not just because they are my precious children, but because they are yours. Help me to carve out moments to build Lego creations and color pictures and sing songs with them because the days are fleeting. But even if I am never the "fun" mom or the perfect mom, even if I miss opportunities to play, or fail to keep their toys perfectly organized, or if dinner consists of peanut butter sandwiches for several nights in a row, let me never fail to bring my children to you. As you draw me closer to Yourself, may my children develop the same passion to know the living God, and to live their lives in accordance with Your Word.

In the coming year, I pray that I will make the most of every moment, living each day to be more like Christ. In doing so, may I never hinder my children from knowing their Heavenly Father. As I bask in their smiles, their hugs, and their stories, may I remember that every moment counts...and that this moment is one of the few precious ones I have to show them what true Love looks like.


  1. Amen, Manda. Beautiful reminder, thank you!

  2. I kept that poem near by when you were young and nightly Bible stories was a treasured tradition. I only wish I'd continued it longer - you are really never too old for a bedtime story (or 2 or 3). Keep up the good work! Love you, Mum