Vacation Bible School has started, and my teen is lead teacher of the 4- and 5-year-olds. She doesn’t understand why none of the youth jumped at the opportunity to lead them. Sure, they’re wild, noisy, and hyper, but that’s how kids this age are supposed to be. They’re also silly, lovable, and enthusiastic. And for whatever reason, my teen just perfectly grooves with them. She was telling me about one little boy, a member of the church, who’s cute as can be. She said, “He’s really ADHD.”
I said, “We never diagnosed ADHD in kids younger than 3rd grade. God designed y’all to be hyper and not sit still for hours at a time when you’re little.”
My younger daughter who’s 8 piped up from the back seat, “Jesus said for little children to come to him, and he accepts them when they’re hyper, too.”
Let’s visit this for a bit. Jesus bids his disciples quite a few times to allow the little children to come to him. He also holds little children up as examples of faithfulness. We are to be like little children.
What would that look like for our lives of discipleship?
We’d be lovable. Little children accept and love people, no matter what. At the same time, they’re open to receiving love and care, too. They can be amazing caregivers, and they are pretty good about allowing others to care for them when necessary. In allowing others to care for us, we’re giving them the opportunity to live out their own faith in servitude.
We’d be enthusiastic. Whether it’s dinosaurs or a new doll or a trip to the beach, children are exuberantly happy about those things or events. What would our lives look like if we enthusiastically proclaimed, “I love Jesus!” or said with so much joy, “Let me tell you what our pastor said Sunday. It was so good!”
We’d be silly. I’m not talking clown-silly or immature-silly. I’m talking twirling-with-excitement silly or dancing-in-the-streets silly, all because we have this amazing gift of complete love and acceptance. We as Christ-followers should have so much joy that it spills over into silliness. So many believers think that such expressions of joy are unholy, maybe even blasphemous or sinful. I know someone who I met after she accepted Christ as her Savior. She’s one of the most dour, unhappy, unsmiling people I’ve ever met. Someone who knew her before her conversion told me that she used to be a lot more fun to be around before she became a Christian. What’s up with that? Sure, our behaviors and attitudes need to change once we start following Jesus, but we should still be people that others wish to be around.
As anyone who’s been around little kids knows, it’s not all silly giggle fits and hugs. Sometimes it’s tantrums and tired crankies. Sometimes it’s stubborn refusals to eat what we serve them or to do what we ask. Sometimes it’s fights with siblings and breaking the lovely (???) vase your husband’s aunt gave you as a wedding present (though, is that really that much of a loss?). Many times, it’s streaking through the house (quite literally for my wannabe nudist younger daughter) and climbing over the backs of furniture. Any minute, you expect to see someone swinging from the lighting fixture over the kitchen table. Whew! Remember how exhausting those days were?
We have our adult equivalent to those things. We get tired and irritable and pitch a hissy fit when too many things are going wrong. We fight with our spouses (or siblings, friends, or that obnoxious drunk neighbor). And in a fit of pique, we may even accidentally-on-purpose annihilate the tacky serving bowl from a person we don’t remember.
But you know what’s cool? The Jesus who loves and welcomes little children, the Jesus who practically gathers them up to come over for a story, a blessing, and a hug, even with their stubbornness, hyperactivity, and tantrum-throwing, does the same for us. He makes it more adult: “Come to me all who are weary, and I will give you rest.” The same welcoming embrace that Jesus offers little children is ours as well. But we have to go. Jesus bids the children come, and he calls us adults to come, too. He calls us to bring our pride, our stubbornness, our bad attitudes, and our issues to him and to trade those things in for peace and comfort, for living water and eternal life, for unconditional love and acceptance.
So, what’s it gonna be? Why not shed a few layers of uptight adultness and wrap ourselves in some exuberant, joyful child-of-God-hood? I feel lighter and happier already.
Do you want to know more about how to get Jesus’ peace? Drop a comment below, and I’ll share with you how that can be yours. The grace is free, but it is costly, because we still have to answer the summons.