Before, in a life that seems long long ago, I was a preschool teacher. I use the term “teacher” VERY loosely…because I my role was more a facilitator of play. We had our hands in the paint and in the beads and in the dough. We were always outside looking for rocks and pine cones and any other little treasure to put in our bag. We were drawing towns with sidewalk chalk and pretending to be animals in cages…until we were set free to gallop or skip or bounce or fly. I taught the required letters and numbers and colors…but it would not be about tracing lines on paper…we would sing every song that I knew that had the letter or number (I know have a repertoire of childish songs in my head like no one you know!) We would have a snack of something that started with the sound. We would play games …and example might be, “Good Morning my little people! And how are you? “F”ine you say???? Well…isn’t that “F” unny because today we are going to “F”ind out about the letter “F”! “F” irst…what sound do you think the letter “F” makes?….ok…now try not to “F”ling slobber all over our “F”riends!”…now lets sing “Little Bunny Foo-foo…Now Let’s sing “Five little Speckled Frogs”…Now lets eat some gold “F”ish and “F”ruit juice!”
You get the idea?! That might be all that you can stand just reading that…but if you are three or four or me, then you would eat that stuff up!
The reason that I am telling you this is because I think that there are times to be serious…and “act your age”. But if that means forgetting how to have fun, then no thanks. You might think that there is something wrong with me for loving to sing, “You gave me a heart and You gave me a smile…You gave me Jesus and You made me Your child…and I just thank you Father for making me me!” or “I am a promise. I am a possibility. I am a promise…with a capital “P”. I am a great big bundle of Potentiality…”
I am a child. God’s child. I often see the world like a child. In complete awe and worship of a Father that would make something so special…for me!
I had a meaningful conversation with my youngest daughter as I drove her to school today about what may have happened to her volleyball jersey that has been missing for several weeks.( It may seem like a ridiculous waste of time to you…but I was with my child…having quality silly time.) The house has been searched thoroughly…several times… even everyone’s drawers have been rifled through…so when she asked me this morning if it had been found for her game tonight I told her that I bet the cats got together and ate it…and then I did a cat voice, “Hey guys, let’s eat that jersey so that our girl has to stay here and spend time with us! Yea!!! Let’s eat it!” And of course, she asked me…”Did Buddy the dog eat it too?”
Now, my daughter is brilliant and eleven so she is very aware that the cats and dog did not eat her shirt…but she wanted to play my game, so she kept it going. “What did Jelly Bean say?” I answered in my Jelly Bean voice…”Yea, she thinks that I have a jelly belly…but I really have a jersey belly…” “What about Marquelle?”…”Oh…maybe that wasn’t a good idea to eat that fabric. The vet said he thought I had a urinary tract infection…I wish I could tell him it is the polyester blend that is irritating me.” “What about whiny baby Jack?” “Nnnooooooo….Dooooooooon’t…….Stoooooooooop……Moooooooooooooooom!” I complainedly meowed all the way to school…and she was laughing and I was laughing.
It was silly…probably stupid to a lot of people. But it was fun. I was being childish. I am good with that. I want to ALWAYS live everyday in a constant state of wonder and amazement…because I am not blind or deaf and I would have to be not to notice the miracle of this life.
“At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” Matthew 18:1-5
As Mark Batterson puts it, “The day we stop dreaming is the day we start dying. When imagination is sacrificed on the altar of logic, God is robbed of the glory that rightfully belongs to Him. In fact, the death of a dream is often a subtle form of idolatry. We lose faith in the God who gave us the big dream and settle for a small dream that we can accomplish without His help. We go after dreams that don’t require divine intervention. We go after dreams that don’t require prayer. And the God who is able to do immeasurably more than our right brain can imagine is supplanted by a god – lowercase g – who fits within the logical constraints of our left brain…Nothing honors God more than a big dream that is way beyond our ability to accomplish. Why? Because there is no way we can take credit for it. And nothing is better for our spiritual development than a big dream because it keeps us on our knees in raw dependence on God.”
He wants to do big things for us, in us, through us.
My favorite part of “teaching” little ones was chapel. I was the prop queen. I would have Barbie dolls playing every male and female part and Baby Barbies playing baby Bible parts…and stuffed animals for Noah’s Ark….and seeds to scatter on real weeds and real rocks and I got to fly around and gobble up the seeds that the birds ate up…and a flower growing in good soil to show how god wants His word to grow in us and be something beautiful. I would put on a little play for each lesson. And they were quiet. About 75 two through five year olds were paying attention…and learning about GOD!!!! And straining over the pew to see…and smiling and clapping and hugging me at the end.
That is what learning about God should be like…eyes wide open. Taking it all in. Leaning forward. Learning. Smiling. Clapping our hands. Raising our arms up for a hug.
Matthew 18 goes on to say in verses 6-14 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come! If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.
The Parable of the Wandering Sheep
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.
“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.”
We are the little ones too. Are we our own stumbling block and have we let the world put a millstone around our neck? Have we bought into the lie that we have to put away childish ways and grown up? Yes, we have to have responsibilities and make good, sound, mature decisions…but that does not mean losing our imagination. Dreams are not very different from prayers…as long as when we dream the outcome is for the good of mankind and for the glory of God…not the good of me and the glory of me.
Take the millstone off and lighten the load. Actually, you can’t do it alone…ask God to remove it and ask for God to help you see like a little child and believe like a little child…and dream like a little child.
And be amazed.