Let the children come to me – Erin Manners
We recently had 3 consecutive nights out for the Legacy prayer meetings at church (Legacy is a 3 week season at LIFE where we set aside time to hear from God and bring an annual offering). We decided to take our kids (7, 5 & 2), partly because we couldn’t get a babysitter as most of ours are all involved with church, but also because we want our kids to be a part of what we do, and they absolutely love it. So on the third night, we are there early and mingling in the foyer as people start arriving and my kids who are tired (and for my kids tired + people = hyperactive), are running around playing tag, and talking to people. In fact, my oldest daughter thought it would be funny to go around with the younger two in tow, telling people about her latest discovery; “the most annoying song in the world”, (yes that’s what it’s called, you can google it but I wouldn’t recommend doing that). She even manages to convince a few people to look it up on their phones and the kids like a little choir sing along thinking it’s the coolest thing ever!
My kids love our senior pastor, Ps Paul (de Jong), and they often go over to him to tell him little stories, or show him a picture they had drawn or just to give him a cuddle. He is always very gracious and engaging with them. But this particular night when I saw her standing at his heels while he was deep in conversation with someone excitedly waiting for an opportunity to interrupt (we are still working on that!) I knew immediately what she wanted to do – to share her new “song” with him so I quickly scooted across the room and pulled her away from him and told her off. “Ps Paul does not need to hear that song, he is having an important conversation and is about to lead a prayer night he does not need that tune playing over and over in his head!”. And I promptly decided it was time to take the them all up to kids church.
This little experience got me thinking about the story in Matthew 19, where people were bringing their kids to Jesus and the disciples rebuked them. I always thought that disciples were being pretty harsh. Have you ever seen those beautiful pictures depicting Jesus surrounded by little children, one on his lap, all quiet and attentive with little lambs at his feet? I mean who would stop that right? Accept, knowing the nature of small children and seeing my own kids running around the feet of our senior pastor I can appreciate perhaps why the disciples were reluctant to let them come near Jesus. They were probably just trying to protect Him from the most annoying song in the world or something of the like!
But Jesus responds with “let the children come to me and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such a these”. He wasn’t bothered by their immaturity, their silly stories, unruliness or dirty faces. He welcomed them with open arms.
The bible says in Galatians 3:6, “…in Christ Jesus you are all Children of God through faith…” So I ask myself the question, do we then as His children, come boldly to Him about everything? Do we think He really cares?
I had a friend recently ask me if it was ok to pray to God for help with juggling finances to pay her mortgage, or was that selfish? I responded with; of course you can pray about that, God cares about all aspects of our lives. But it got me thinking, do we really believe that we can go to God about everything? How many of us restrict ourselves by only talking to God the big decisions or what is seemingly important. Or how many of us keep God at a distance because we know we have “stuff” that isn’t right and we want to get that sorted before we fully engage with Him?
The picture in my mind’s eye has now changed from the quaint and peaceful image in my childhood bible. The kids are climbing all over Jesus, showing him their artwork, or telling stories of what they did that day, perhaps they are playing and laughing together, crying in his arms when they hurt themselves from playing too rough….it’s real life, and I am so thankful that Jesus is not put off by our immaturity or lack of faith, in fact He embraces it. He is there to walk alongside, to listen and engage in every detail.