Children are like parables; they take deep matters of faith and give an everyday example of it. They have a far greater potential for learning than many people give them. I know that I learn a lot from them even though they might not realize it. They can be little messengers God uses to drive some point home to us.
Looking for that Lost Coin
For our weekly grocery store trip I took both my 4-year-old and 2-year-old son shopping. I guess I was looking for a little more of a challenge. The first thing that my 4-year-old does at any store is start to look around for things to collect. Sometimes he collects maps, but lately he has been looking for coins. He has what he calls a coin collection, which is really just a little vitamin bottle with some loose change in it. This little bottle he carries with him and shakes, making obnoxious noise. He is determined to find any coins in that store, though. In order to succeed he looks everywhere. But, even though he is not all that tall, he feels like he needs to get even lower to see. I have to stop and call his name often. A lot of the time he is lying on the floor, looking under shelves and in every little crevice. He is looking all over the place, except in front of him, meaning he runs into a lot of things. This does not deter him from his mission. This particular trip was a lucrative for him as he found not one but two quarters.
At first I just laughed this off, but then as I was leaving the store it suddenly hit me. This is a picture of how much God loves us. In fact, Jesus told a story that was very similar to this in Luke 15.
“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” – Luke 15:8-10
My 4-year-old had demonstrated this parable without ever realizing it. There are lost coins in there somewhere and he is going to do whatever it takes to find them, even looking rather foolish, getting dirty and slowing me down to do it. After he then found one he couldn’t wait to find another, telling everyone and looking even harder for more. This is a lot like the world we live in. All around us are hurting people. These people walk right by us everyday at local stores, at our jobs, schools, or even in our churches. These are people who maybe have never even thought about the way God loves them and so desperately need to know. Those of us that have a relationship with Jesus Christ have the responsibility to share that love with people. Sure, it might make us look foolish and we might have to go to some pretty unusual places, or get dirty in order to make that happen, but there is great rejoicing when one person trusts in Christ.
Learning by Example
Another lesson came the end of last week from my oldest son. Before the last youth retreat, I went to the church to set up the youth room for the group that would meet there in my absence. As I set up, my 7-year-old son started to write on the chalk board wall. I didn’t pay too much attention to what he was doing at first, but then I suddenly realized that he was really working hard at what he was doing. Then it dawned on me; He was writing out a verse that we had been working on with him. On the wall he wrote John 3:16. As I have said before, I believe the Word of God is the most important thing that we can give our children. To that end, we have been helping him learn some Bible verses in order to equip him make sense of some of the garbage in the world. (even in 2nd grade, unfortunately) He is remembering the verse and taking the initiative to share it. I love how he jumps in, without pretense and with such simplicity. Kids can get it, learn it and apply it to their lives. They are willing to share it with whomever because they are not as concerned about being rejected for their faith yet. What a challenge for us! Am I modeling that for him? Maybe, but not as much as he is modeling it for me.
This leads me to the last little example I want to share. Sometime last week, I noticed that my 2-year-old son was up to something, so I naturally stopped and watched. You had better stop and watch when he is putting something together. He set a ‘my buddy’ doll in his chair at the table, grabbed a little bowl of cereal and a spoon and started feeding him. He was very serious about it, even strapping the baby in. I marveled at that because this is something that he has picked up by watching us. We didn’t sit him down and show him a slide show on how to do this. He saw us do it and he did it. That is a sobering reminder of how much children pick up from us. My children are such blessings to me and others. May I bless them by loving God with all my heart and steering them to what actually matters, leading by example.
There are lessons all around us from God. What has God shown you today?