I’ve been learning a lot about myself lately, and among many other things, one of the most evident things is this:
I’m a control freak.
I like most things in my life just so. My bedcovers, my dishwasher, my hair.
I like them neat and tidy, especially when it comes to their behaviour. And anything outside of that neat and tidy box often feels like nails on a chalkboard. It jumps out of the box that I want it in and rubs me in a way that makes me feel things like surface-level irritation all the way up to the kind of rage you see from that little red guy on Inside Out.
And all of this becomes perpetuated in public situations. Especially ones of a religious nature.
A while back, we went to a barbecue at some friends of ours and later in the evening they had a worship session. It was such a wonderful time, between the music and the voices raising up praise to Jesus. And all the while, my four-year-old was busy dancing around, singing (his own words), and playing the game of “20 Questions” without having invited anyone else to join him.
As you can imagine, I simultaneously wanted to crawl under a rock and cry, and run for the hills as quickly as my little legs could take me.
But somewhere in-between the 26th and the 27th plea for him to be quiet and just watch, that still small voice spoke once again.
Let them come to me.
Instantaneously, I knew that the place my heart was in was not honouring God at all. Here we were, each of us lifting up praise to the Lord, and I was spending so much time trying to manage the behaviour of my son that I was not only distracting myself and others from the worship experience, but in all honesty, I was forgetting that he was just being a little boy.
A little boy, who was curious about what he was watching, and was participating in his own way.
And as I thought more about it, I realized that once again, I had made God so small. I had made Him out to be a God Who can’t handle the wiggles in my little one, Who is easily frustrated by children who don’t sit still. But once again, I had reflected my own frustrations and shortcomings onto my almighty Father, and not seen Him as that mightily patient God that He is.
When I imagine that day in a village in Judea when the people brought their children to Jesus to be blessed and prayed over, I don’t imagine those small children being perfectly quiet and reverent. Any mother would agree that a group of small children would likely be a tangle of wiggles and squeals instead. But when the disciples rebuked the parents for bringing their children to Jesus, He opened His arms to those little ones: wiggles, squeals, and all.
I first thought about this a few years ago, when a friend and I ended our time together in prayer, sitting in her car, our children all crying or laughing simultaneously, and she thanked God for allowing us to come to His feet with our children in tow. For Him allowing us to come just as we are.
For me to come, wholly and fully, just as I am, that is going to mean that my children come too, right? As moms, in many ways our children are extensions of ourselves, and the day in and day out care that comes with the stewardship of raising children is going to include them joining us as we come before the Lord in many different ways. Whether that’s a church service, a worship night, or our own devotional time, one way or another, our children will be a part of it.
And in all honesty, I think that’s how it’s supposed to be.
Our children learn by example, and how else will they learn how to walk in relationship with God, if not by watching us do it first? If not by watching us worship, watching us read the Word, watching us cry out in prayer when we are frustrated or exhausted?
Let them come.
That’s what He’s asked. Let them come. Let them see. Let them experience.
Let them see Him for who He really is, ready to take us just as we are.