The lessons never stop coming as to how the time we give can make a difference in someone’s life. At the same time, I find it a true blessing to take my children along to serve. For a few years now the youth group has been serving at least once a month at the community center serving a meal to lonely senior citizens. It is an opportunity for us to get involved in the community, build relationships and just show people that we care about them. The most recent night was before Christmas and I went with my 4-year-old son.
His motives for going might not be as pure as you would think. The lady who works in the kitchen really likes him and will give him all kinds of food. On this particular night, things started off well for him because there was a plate of donuts waiting for him. Naturally, he had one to start. Then he moved on to the peaches. Then it was time for beef stew and french fries. By the time dessert came around, he was done. And yet, he wanted another donut.
This night we also met a new older man who came in with two ladies. He came over to see us because I had my son there. Kids attract all kinds of people and this guy was a real entertainer. This man wore a t-shirt with a sport jacket, had a slicked back hair style and a ruddy complexion. He came in early to ask if it was cocktail hour and then proceeded to explain to us how he hangs out constantly with these two women. I then watched as they bantered back and forth and the women, who I guess were sisters, fought over which one would get to have him over after. I sort of slipped away, using the excuse that my son was now done with his donut and he needed to get washed up. This, by the way, was true and perfectly timed. This man was a character the whole time, asking all of the volunteers for drinks. I am guessing his routine would get old after an hour or so.
So, we serve the meal like we always do and we hang out while they have an activity. It has become fun for our group to get to know these people and for them to get to know us. They were doing Christmas trivia and I really didn’t know many of the questions. I was proud to know the boy’s name in Home Alone though, which was one they did not know.
What made this night especially sweet, though, was not that I was serving alongside youth and my son, but rather the care ride home. On the way home we were admiring Christmas lights. Then, out of seemingly nowhere, my son says, “Hey dad.” Now, when he says “hey dad” there is usually some deep thought coming, so I was ready. He said, “Hey dad, I just can’t wait to get to heaven.” *pause* So, I asked him why he wanted to get to heaven. His answer, “Because that is where Jesus is. I can’t see Him now, but He is always with me. I just really love Him.” He then went into a tangent about where Egypt was and slaves, since he had recently learned about that story in Bible School. In the mean time, I am just blown away with his candid desire to be with Jesus.
Children are so often overlooked for what they can contribute. Just Christmas Eve my 2-year-old son contributed to the reading of the Christmas story. I got to the pulpit to read from Luke 2 when I heard over the relative quiet the voice of my child. What was he saying, “My butt! My butt!” No one knows why, but it was certainly a new take on the story. Churches are guilty of sometimes missing these things because the moment there is noise they try to get them out of the sanctuary so the adults can worship in tranquility. Yet, I have 4 unique children that might be loud, but can certainly learn and worship right now. Our youngest is only a few months old, but the rest are able to serve and bless in their own ways.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” – Luke 18:16 Kids are not a nuisance that must be entertained. They are each wonderful gifts from God that can be used by Him to often teach adults what really matters. Children don’t need to have it all figured out, they just trust. We can learn a lot from our kids. I am constantly thankful for these opportunities I have where they just share their heart. Then as we serve and drive home we can talk about what it means to follow Christ, knowing that as we serve we are doing what He has asked us to do.