I want to tell you about my friend, Connie.
Connie attends my church in my hometown, and if the doors are open? She is there. She truly loves church. She rides the bus to church, helps all of the elderly ladies on and off the bus, and can be found on the back row every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night.
I am currently in graduate school in Little Rock, and anytime I come home this is what happens: It doesn’t matter where I am in the church building, if she hears I am home or sees me, she will scream “DAYTON! DAYTON! DAYTON! DAYTON!” until we finally meet and she gives me a big hug. People stare, some may laugh, and I don’t care a bit. I love Connie, and she always makes my day when I see her. She loooooves the babies in our congregation. Whenever she hears of another couple expecting a baby, she is absolutely elated. If there’s a new baby somewhere in the auditorium, you can pretty much guarantee Connie will be there as soon as church is over. Sometimes when our preacher or an elder is welcoming everyone, she will respond when he asks a question or laugh very loudly. Once again, people may stare and some may laugh, and I love it. There is not a doubt that she loves being with the church. She has a huge heart and loves to help in any way she can.
I want to be more like Connie. I need to be more like Connie. She once asked me to make her a CD of some kid’s worship songs I had used in a VBS slideshow. As I drove her home, she sang every word of every song and was full of joy. It is also not uncommon for Connie to go forward during the invitation song and ask for prayers. One day, she asked for prayers because she and her brother had gotten in a fight and she needed help with forgiveness. Wow. I was floored, and that’s when I realized I needed to be more like Connie. How many times have I had issues with the same thing, but instead of asking others for prayers to deal with it, I hold onto that anger, hurt, and resentment? A lot of times, I can tell you that. I don’t want to forgive others, I’d rather stay mad at them. And more times than I can count, I’ve complained about another church event or service that I had to attend.
I want to be more like Connie because I think she is a good example of what Jesus wants us to be. He wants us to become like little children.
In Matthew 18:34, Jesus tells the crowd surrounding him;
“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
This was Jesus’s response when his disciples asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” They had totally missed the point, and like so many other times in the Bible and still today, he gently reminded them of how they should think and be.
Children are loving.
Any child I’ve ever been around loves so fearlessly. It doesn’t matter who the person or thing is, they freely and openly show their love. Loving others is a commandment that shows up so many times in Bible. It’s the two greatest commandments that Jesus gives us.
“And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
The love of a child is pure. It hasn’t been diluted or skewed by their surroundings or environment. They just simply love. Too many times as we grow older, it does not come as easy to us. We get hurt or that love may not be returned. It may be uncomfortable at times, so we choose to not outwardly show our love to people who need it and also to each other. The love of Jesus is perfect, and as 1 John 4:18 says;
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.”
I can love freely because that’s how Christ loves me.
Children are easily in awe.
How many times have you been with a child, and they completely light up at something that may seem so small? It is so easy to amaze a child. Show them a magic trick, watch a little girl meet a Disney Princess or see a little boy see a big, cool truck, and they are completely in awe of what they are seeing. Something even so simple can brighten up their day in the biggest of ways. So many times, I think we forget to be in awe of how the Lord is working in our lives. We get caught up in our routines and doing the same thing over and over, that we stop to remember what He has done in our lives. I truly believe that when we are consciously aware of it, we start to notice even tiny ways He is helping us along the way.
Children need discipline.
When kids are young, they need to be disciplined and taught what is right from wrong. And maybe just as importantly, why something is right or wrong. Just like children, we need to humble ourselves because we are constantly needing to be molded. It’s a process that is continuous throughout our lifetime, not just when we are children. God shapes us and refines us into a masterpiece that he has created to carry out His purpose on this earth.
“But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.”
Usually, this process is painful and uncomfortable. And sometimes, harsh discipline is required in order to guide us back on the right path and focused on Him. It’s happened ever since the beginning of time. Adam and Eve, the Israelites, Jonah, David, and so many others in the OT and NT are recorded in Scripture, and God was molding them the same way he molds us today. Wandering the desert for 40 years?! That is definitely the biggest time-out I’ve ever seen. We make mistakes and we learn from them. God patiently and gently guides, refines, and molds us to be more like Jesus.
Children are eager to please their parents.
Be honest. How many of your parents still have a box or tub somewhere that is full of your crafts, drawings, cards, or whatever else you may have made when you were little? I’m sure there is one somewhere. My parents’ Christmas tree is full of homemade ornaments from all of mine and my brothers’ school years displayed proudly. Looking at those creations now, they may seem silly. However, at the time, it was like you had just painted the Mona Lisa, and you couldn’t wait to give it to your Mom or Dad. You couldn’t wait to see the look on their face and hear them say, “Wow! This is so beautiful! I can’t wait to put it on the fridge when we get home.” How much more so should we be like this with our Heavenly Father? We are his sons and daughters, and he has sacrificed everything for us. Whether it is through our worship, service to others, attitudes, or how we use our talents, he is pleased and delights in us.
“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”
The Lord delights in you, me, and all of his creation. Just like I still love to make my parents proud, even at 24 years old, I want to please my Heavenly Father by worshipping him and glorifying him with the talents he has given me.
Children find security and comfort in their parents.
Even before a child is born, they know their mother and father’s voice. How cool is that? As they are born, reach different developmental milestones, and eventually become more independent, they will always look to their parents for reassurance or comfort. When a baby is upset, they want mom or dad. When a child is hurt, no one can make a scrape better like mom or dad can. They know that wherever they are, if they can just get to mom or dad, everything will be okay. They feel this comfort and security because they know their parents. Many times in the Bible, the analogy of sheep following their shepherd is used. Jesus calls himself the good shepherd in John 10:14.
“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me.”
To be able to find comfort and security in Jesus, we must intimately know him to be able to trust in him completely. If you do not know someone very well, how likely are you to trust what they say or do what they tell you to do? Not likely. Psalms is an excellent book to read when you need to find comfort. It is so raw and full of David pouring out his heart to the Lord in anguish and also praising him through the good and the bad. Psalm 23 is all about how the Lord guides us, protects us, and comforts us. Another example is Psalm 46:1:
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
God is our comforter, helper, protector, and so much more. We must be diligently seeking His voice and guidance always.
We have a patient and loving Father who could have chosen to have an intimate relationship with any of His creations, and chose us. He could have forgone all of the pain and heartache that has inevitably happened because of us, but He still chooses to love us anyways. Instead of doing it Himself, He is patient and teaches us. Just like a father who lets his child help him build or fix something when he could’ve done it by himself much quicker or a mother who lets her child help her bake a cake or make a meal when she could’ve done it herself with much less ingredients most likely, He is patient, loving, and walks along this journey with us.
As we serve him daily, let’s remind ourselves of the characteristics of a child-like faith!