One of our absolute favorite Jesus-stories tells about His encounter with some families on a hillside. His widespread reputation as an itinerant teacher had gone before him. Those following him that day had kids in tow. As they pressed around him for a better vantage from which to hear his words, their kids got in the way.
Jesus stopped to notice and even let some daring youngsters climb up on his lap. His stern rebuke for his disciples was in contrast to his welcoming words for the parents and their kids. I would imagine more than one child climbed down from his lap and carried with him to his grave memories of the smell, the feel, the impact of being so close to the heart of their Savior.
Isn’t this what we really want for our children today? Closeness to Jesus that will remain with them all their life? This proximity best begins when they’re young if it is to grow into a vibrant relationship. And what did Jesus offer those little ones? Little more than a blessing. The lesson was for the adults; the blessing for the kids.
But what does it mean to ‘bless’ someone? Our dictionary connects ‘blessing’ with happiness and, indeed, those children had to have been happy. But I like to think that Jesus wanted, more than anything, to convey joy to his littlest followers, the joy that intimacy with Him brings.
So here’s the question. How do we, today, help our kids climb up on Jesus’ lap and experience His blessing? How do we encourage them, indeed, prepare them to participate in His Kingdom’s work? I’d like to suggest three things. We…
PRAY! Nothing is more important than prayer. We pray for our kids, we pray with them and we teach them to pray.
PROVIDE! Of all the things we buy for them, of all the things we make sure our kids have, nothing is more important than exploring God’s Word with them in age appropriate, relevant ways. We do this with serious intention and God’s wisdom.
PARTNER! It’s not only a matter of what we say, but whether we are good examples of what we say. We’re in this life together with our kids in a partnership that stretches into eternity to build men and women of strong, Godly character. Our homes are living proof of what it means to be Jesus-followers.
A story is told about an itinerant preacher in early 19th century Scotland who rode his horse all day through sleet and snow to preach in a country church. The congregation was small in number – and brave. (Inclement weather, remember?) The organist led the hymn sing with a small boy, unseen by all, working the bellows that created the organ’s sound. The preacher returned home weary from travel and discouraged by the meager response.
Today, do we remember that preacher’s name, the organist’s – even one of the congregation? No, but millions remember the name of the boy who pumped the organ’s bellows. It was David Livingstone who became one of 19th century’s most famous persons in all of Europe and even in America. There’s no way to prove what impact that unnamed preacher had on the young David, but you may be sure his words were not wasted.
And our words are not ‘wasted’ either when we speak God’s love and God’s thoughts into the youngsters He entrusts to our care.
Furthermore, our words are meant to lead to action. God wants us to engage in His Kingdom’s work with our kids – while they are young never giving them the idea that they must wait until they grow up to follow Jesus. He still waits to bless them.