Points to Ponder: You Guys Are Brave!

Points to Ponder
You Guys Are Brave!

The little girl's father told us over and over again: "You guys are brave." After about the seventh time of repeating that (once for every year of his daughter's age I suppose), he and his wife left for a quiet evening together. About eleven other girls soon arrived. The exact number eludes me.
It was our daughter's seventh birthday and we were hosting a slumber party for her and her friends. Her elementary school has a policy about students inviting classmates to parties; sort of a "no child left behind" rule. All the girls in Elizabeth's class had to be invited. And they were. Of course, we figured the odds were that about half might come; maybe less. But actually, most of them were thrilled to come. Our living room became a campground full of seven-year-old girls. We were brave.
This brings back memories of my early days in seminary when I worked as a director of Christian education. Though I oversaw the entire Sunday school program, I did not especially enjoy being in the same room with children. Any room. Wise lay leaders advised me to work on that attitude.
It was not that I disliked children. I actually figured out that I was kind of afraid of them. Their no fear, take-no-prisoners attitude when they have firmly set their mind on doing or having something; their irrational approach to the possibility - if not probability - of death or serious injury resulting from their choices unnerved me. I still do not comprehend youth group ski trips. (I wonder about the adults too.) Two sticks, no brakes, on snow and ice, downhill; why is this fun?
I saw growth in myself though. I drove some of the youth to White Tail for one of their ski trips. With young teenagers in my car for almost two hours, I was able to listen to their conversations going on behind me. I jumped in and participated. After bringing them home later that night intact, no injuries, I realized I'd had a good time with them and they with me.
I worked on my discomfort with the elementary age group by telling a story, sitting on the floor in each Sunday school class over a period of weeks. I wound up teaching the senior high class, without warning, because the teacher was out. I finally realized the source of my discomfort and fear: they are fragile souls. And they trusted me.
God gave adults a stewardship role with regard to the children. They trust, often unconditionally and without reservation, the adults who raise them and mentor them. It is a fearful and awesome thing to realize that an encouraging word, an arm around the shoulder, a nonjudgmental patient ear, a sincere love for the person they are, may be among the foundational moments in their journey to adulthood. Likewise, our negative words, critical spirits, and poor lifestyle examples may have a powerful, opposite effect, possibly hindering a child from knowing the Lord.
I enjoyed Elizabeth's slumber party. These little girls, some of whom I met for the first time that night, came to me to tie a shoe, pour a drink, or to ask a question. They were in a strange place and yet totally at home under our care and supervision. Awesome trust! (Oh that we would trust our Heavenly Father so naturally and freely.) After all the silliness and carrying on until 11:30 pm was finally contained to our one room campsite, we needed the girls to settle down for the night. Marcella slept among them; kind of like Jesus ("I am the door"), guarding the sheep fold so that none could slip away. Usually we do devotions and prayer with Elizabeth at bedtime, but not knowing the faith background of our guests, I was ready to just double up on it tomorrow night with her.
Just then, one of the girls asked aloud "Can we pray?" One of the other girls across the room seconded the motion. I thought, "And a little child shall lead them" (Isaiah 11:6d)
There I was, the adult with the Masters of Divinity degree, wondering what would be right for this occasion. The girl simply put it out there. "Can we pray?" Duh.
So I welcomed the idea and suggested she lead off. She thanked God for the great time, and the "best day" which tomorrow was certainly going to be. Other girls raised their hands, "Can I go next?" Some prayed two or three times around. Some thanked God for being God. Some had pets that had died and they were thankful God was caring for them now. A lot of interesting words for the Lord from the innocent trusting hearts of children. Most of them had never been in our home, let alone slept there. Yet they were at home with God, not embarrassed at all.
Who were the brave ones now?
Are you nervous about giving thanks in a restaurant? Are you embarrassed about praying in front of your kids? There are a lot of ungodly values and destructive behaviors being unashamedly promoted before the eyes of the innocent, trusting children. The world is not apologetic or hesitant in promoting what it believes. Why are we afraid of being despised for believing the truth? The simple faith of children that night showed me two things.
One was the unashamed trust in God and the freedom they felt to just put it out there.
Second, was the realization that there was godly adult leadership behind those expressions of faith. Those who hear and talk about the Lord at home were at ease in speaking of Him and to Him away from home.
For a space of time you have the trusting ears and eyes of a child. Is your speech and lifestyle worthy of it?
"(not) as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away." (I Peter 5:3-4)

This column can be found on the web at: www.fumcl.org. Pastor Whitmore is not affiliated with Picket News, nor does he submit material directly to our publication. We regularly reprint interesting articles found at his public web site and encourage all readers to visit for similar material.