To start this post, here are three quotes about children:
A child can ask questions that a wise man cannot answer. ~Author Unknown
While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about. ~ Angela Schwindt
Children find everything in nothing; men find nothing in everything. ~Giacomo Leopardi.
That last quote is, I think, about children’s capacity to wonder at what they encounter as opposed to our adult cynicism. … At times children have the capacity to cut through the nonsense and get to the heart of the matter. So often, children are transparent when we are at best clouded and insecure.
This is why, I think, Jesus talks in Matthew 11 of God revealing things to children that are hidden from the wise and learned. Sometimes the only appropriate response to things we encounter is that of wonder and praise. Sometimes things are just beautiful, any attempt to explain them diminishes them.
We find it difficult to accept that children’s faith is real, and yet the truth is that children have not yet encountered the cynicism which destroys faith. They can still wonder at the seemingly unexplained, and they know that God is there for them.
Here are a few little stories (culled from elsewhere) to enjoy:
A Sunday School asked her young class to learn Psalm 23. She gave them a month. One young lad was excited about the task, but he just couldn’t remember the Psalm. After much practice, he could barely get past the first line. On the day the children were going to recite the psalm in front of the congregation, he was really nervous. His turn came and he stepped up to the microphone. He said proudly, “The Lord is my shepherd . . . and that’s all I need to know!”
When a mother saw a thunderstorm forming in mid-afternoon, she worried about her seven-year-old daughter who would be walking home from school. Deciding to go to meet her, she saw her daughter walking nonchalantly along, stopping to smile whenever lightning flashed. Seeing her mother, the little girl ran to her, explaining happily, “All the way home, God’s been taking my picture!”
A foundation stage teacher was watching her children drawing. She would occasionally walk around to see each child’s artwork. As she wandered round the classroom, she stopped by one little girl who was working hard. She asked what her drawing was. The girl replied, “I’m drawing God.” The teacher paused and said, “but no one knows what God looks like.” Without missing a beat, or looking up from her drawing the girl replied, “They will in a minute.”
God does not call Christians to be childish, but he does ask us to be child-like in our faith, full of wonder, love and praise; open to seeing the beauty in everything and everyone; honest about ourselves and the world around us; willing to learn and grow; always asking questions and seeking knowledge; playful; full of hope; able to overcome grudges because we don’t hold onto things for too long; able, because we have learnt to trust God even in the worst of times, to see the good in every circumstance; able, because we trust God, to come though adversity in his grace and strength and power.
Try to make room today for a child-like faith: seek to find God in every encounter you have with others; seek to receive God’s promises for yourself once again. Let’s allow children to teach us about wonder, about life and joy and hope, and ultimately about faith as well. For, in doing so, I believe that we will discover that the last verses of the reading from Matthew are true. Let’s hear and hold onto Jesus own words:
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”