One of my grandson’s favorite reading collections right now is a set of Bible story books for young children. He’s apt to ask you to read all of the stories in one book back-to-back — and then command you to start on the next volume. He knows the difference in the tales, too. If Silas requests the boat story, don’t try to read about the miraculous catch of fish if the one he wanted was the storm at sea.
Of course a favorite in most children’s Bible story collections is the one about the children themselves. You know, the one where Jesus said, “Let the children come to me…” Who hasn’t seen an artist’s rendering of the idyllic scene? Jesus sits on a boulder with tots on his knees, in his arms, and all around him as his face radiates gentleness and love.
Someone recently pointed out to me that in Matthew’s gospel, the disciples try to shoo away the children who come to Jesus a mere chapter after Christ says, “Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3) Jesus must have sighed as he reminded the disciples again of the importance of the wee ones — “…to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14b)
So why are the little ones so big with Jesus?
In John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible, he says of Jesus’ …and become like children… “Unless ye learn to entertain an humble, and modest opinion of yourselves…and drop all contentions about primacy and pre-eminence, and all your ambitious views of one being greater than another…”
It’s the humility of children that Jesus was pointing to. But you already knew that, didn’t you?
I am not a noted scripture scholar. But I am a grandmother, and it is by that authority that I offer a possible additional motive behind Jesus’ admonitions. If you spend much time around children, I am sure you can easily add to the list.
What I want to share is something I have only recently come to understand. I wish I could say I learned it when my own kids were small, but I suppose then I was too busy folding laundry and cooking supper. If I keep Silas, though, it’s 100% playtime. Perhaps now I’m more able to see things with a two-year-old’s tunnel vision because I’m crawling through the tunnel with him.
When I visit Silas, he takes the reins as soon as I arrive and sends us galloping off in the direction of his choice. Whether it’s “Read this!” or “Play outside!” it’s clear from the get-go who’s in charge. His mommy often reminds him that it’s not nice to order Grandmere about. While Silas certainly is bossy at times, I’ve noticed something else driving his entreaties of, “Grandmere! Stand with me! Sit with me! Run with me!”
Did you catch that? “With me.” As I study the beaming smile and the gleam in his eyes, I see…delight. He is having great fun, and he wants me to join in. Though Silas is years away from being able to put it into words, he already understands that the best of life’s moments are those shared with a loved one. The joy of shared experience bubbles over and spills onto everyone around it. And that reminds me of God.
The eighth chapter of Proverbs is written in the voice of Wisdom. Verses 29b-31 say, “When he marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was beside him…and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always…and delighting in the sons of men.” God has always delighted in us, ever since he fashioned man from the dust of the earth and declared, “It is good.”
In Isaiah 62:4c, God speaks to Israel, “…The Lord delights in you…” He promises Zion in Zephaniah 3:17, “The Lord your God…will rejoice over you with gladness…He will exult over you with loud singing, as on a day of festival.”
And in John 15:15 it really gets personal when Jesus tells his disciples, “Henceforth I call you not servants, for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth. But I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” Friends? With the very Son of God?
In the Lord’s being as in His ways, much is a mystery and will remain so in this life. Yet God often wants to let us in on what He is doing. He doesn’t need our help at all, but He chooses to make us a part of His plans. His delight is to be close to us, and to draw us near to Him. “Look at what I’m doing over there! Go be a part of it!” “Learn what I’m doing right here! Come and help with it!”
Likewise, our Lord wants us to be ever open to Him — to voice our praise, our gratitude, our confusion, and our pain. “Father, help me be strong. Stand with me!” “God, I need you so much right now. Sit with me.”
Could Christ have placed a little one in their midst because he knew a child would delight in sharing her small world with anyone who would take the time to be a part of it?
Catch the excitement in His voice. Note the twinkle in His eye. “Run with Me!” He cries. Will you follow?
20 thoughts on “Denise Spencer: Come As A Child”
This was special and touched me. My wife and I were just with our two grand-dudes this morning, reading the 18month old a “pop-up” book (over and over) and waiting for his 4 month old brother to wake up from his nap. He did and all was good in Nana’s world.
I particularly like this statement, “Perhaps now I’m more able to see things with a two-year-old’s tunnel vision because I’m crawling through the tunnel with him.” – how true.
Thanks for sharing this.
You took the words right out of my mouth! Well, perhaps, I should say what you wrote is what I would express if I was a writer. Love being a grand mother, for first time in my life I know how to stay in the present moment with love when I play, sing, dance, rock to sleep, explore, pretend, be silly, pray with my gifts from above, my darling grand daughters. Another wondrous happening is my worries or sorrow fly out the window when the grand kids show up.
Elegant in its beauty, Denise, thank you.
Thank you Denise.
Amen to that.
I was just thinking of that today!. Didn’t know it was Chesterton, though. Thanks.
Wonderful stuff, Denise. As I read your words, I reflected on my dad’s interaction with my daughter when she was younger. He would do almost anything she wanted him to do, mainly because she wanted him to do it WITH HER. Her presence has added years to his life. Her joy brought him joy. Your article is a keeper. Thanks for writing it.
I also love spending time with my “busy” grandson, following him around. In Jesus’ case, he was trying to make a point to his disciples, who were not following too well. They were more concerned about who (among them) would be the greatest in Jesus’ new kingdom; selfish ambition sets its eyes on power, pride, and prosperity. So in the midst of these men (who eye the top positions of hierarchy), Jesus places a little child (at the bottom of the hierarchy of men, women, and children). And he tells his disciples they need to set their eyes on “such ones,” and become like them by humbling themselves and following Jesus’ lowly way. Otherwise, they will not even enter his new kingdom. This teaching is more about Jesus’ new family (of disciples who are “brothers and sisters,” who do the will of his Father) than about enjoying one’s natural family.
Maybe because I am getting older, but your writng resonates with me. Just having past the 50 mark I am “waking up” to what my wife has been telling me for many years – close relationships are important – like gold.
I am surrounded by kids – as I have seven, some are now in college, some are still young or in middle and high school (youngest is now seven). and lately I have been again indulging in what you described above – and what God really wants me to do for my family, slow down and take everyone in and enjoy them and just “be”.
Thank you for the reminder. I will remember that as I cross into the threshold of my resting place, where my family is, after work today.
Denise, this is spectacular! Thank you! My grandson was 8 months old Saturday. I care for him part-time while his mommy (my girl) works. I cannot even begin to tell you how much this ‘little man’ has shown me of our Father in Heaven. A gift, pure and unadulterated gift!
Denise, you have touched on the joy and mystery of being a grandparent. When these little children come into our lives, we are released from the terrible burden of parenting into an entirely new level of love, caring, acceptance and grace. With great joy we can get on the floor with them, share the laughter, freedom, and nonsense. Think about it, and think once again about what God is like, or wants to be like for us.
And as time goes on you will bear the pain that these children eventually will feel. You will bear it in a way that is the same, yet so different from that of a parent.
One of the lessons I learned from being a pastor and conducting funerals was about the importance and the sacred place occupied by grandparents. One young man came to me when I was talking to relatives before a funeral. With tears in his eyes he told me about the place his grandfather occupied in his life. Grandad, he said, saved his life from misdirection and possible ruin. Mainly because he was there for him. He was his friend, and a friend with a deep heart of love who would not go away.
And best of all, we do not need to argue the fine points of theology with a grandparent. Sometimes with a parent, it is different
From one grandmother to another…thank you!
Wow, Martha. I love that!
One of my favorite Chesterton quotes! Thanks for reminding me of it, Miss Martha!
Lovely, Miss Denise. Thanks so much for sharing this with us…
G.K. Chesterton, “Orthodoxy”, Chapter Three, “The Ethics of Elfland”:
A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.