As a Little Child
by Janice Gates Pate
|The following article portrays a young child as she seeks God for herself.|
noticed a little girl, about six years-old,
rolling down her rosy cheeks.
rolling down her rosy cheeks.
I went to church the other Sunday as I nearly always do. My eyes beheld a sight I deemed most precious.
After the normal Sunday morning service, the minister asked all persons to advance toward the podium. This is something we nearly always do after the pastor’s sermon. There in front of the church we all stand or kneel before the altar and thank God for his blessings and have a prolonged prayer together. This is always a time of self-cleansing for me and for others as well. This is a time to reflect upon our past week to ponder how we may have done things differently. Maybe I wasn’t a good listener when someone wanted to talk about his problem, or maybe I didn’t lend a helping hand when I should have, or perhaps I wasn’t wearing that smile that sometimes lets another know that life might just be worth living after all. All of these things and more may proceed through my mind as I stand at God’s altar. I always ask for his divine guidance that I may do better in the upcoming week. He always lets me feel that assurance that he is there within reach just at the mention of his name, Jesus.
As I mentioned at the beginning, this particular Sunday my eyes fell upon a sight that I wish many could have witnessed, especially young mothers. As I stood in the altar area, I noticed a little girl, about six years-old, standing with her hands raised toward heaven, tears rolling down her rosy cheeks. She appeared to be trying to find God for herself. I thought, what a beautiful sight--a youngster feeling after God, making an effort to establish a relationship with him before she actually develops a serious need for him. This reminded me of the Randy Travis song, “Don’t Ever Sell Your Saddle.” A line of the lyrics goes like this: “Find the Lord before you need him.” The gist of the song is telling you to hold on to that which has proven to be dependable and right in your life. This little girl was, according to my way of thinking, making an effort to get hold of something that she could later depend upon. Whether or not she was able to fully understand the total concept of her efforts, I believe that she gained an experience that she would never forget. God never turns away a broken and contrite spirit, no matter the person’s age.
The 'good book' bears out that if we draw nigh to him, he in turn will draw nigh to us. Solomon wrote (Eccl. 12:1) remember now thy creator in the days of thy youth. Paul wrote in the New Testament, let no man despise thy youth. Paul must have meant for us to try to develop a relationship with God while we are still young, because if we get to know him while only a child then He has a better chance of directing our lives. After watching this scene, I was reminded of my own childhood, how that my mother taught me in much the same way as this little girl’s mother is evidently teaching her. Awhile back, my niece wrote a song about her grandmother (my mother). This song is built on the adage ‘the family that prays together stays together.’ In this song, she speaks not about all the verbal teachings that she learned at grandma’s house, but the more subtle ones. She writes of how her grandmother displayed God’s word, good moral values, all through her house; about the royal blue paper that the mottoes were written upon and how that Grandma would place them in such a way to catch our eye even if we weren’t conscious of them. These included ‘The family that prays together stays together’ and ‘The Lord is my shepherd.’ There was the image of Christ, The Last Supper, and Jesus depicted as the good shepherd. All were displayed in such a way that we as children would receive the message of God and his goodness without her having to rehearse it with us everyday. It was there before our eyes constantly; one would have to try very hard not to see the pictures and mottoes. Upon viewing the mottoes every day, Mom knew there would be a good chance that she would instill the sayings in our hearts.
As I understand it, the Hebrew tradition is to speak constantly to the little ones about the first five books of Old Testament. Tell it to them when they rise up in the morning, and at lunchtime, and at the evening meal also. By the time children reach age twelve, then, they are able to recite the contents of the books of Moses, better known to them as the Torah. My mother strove to personify the Word as much as she displayed it in her home, and I owe so much to her for being consistent in her walk with Jesus Christ. She taught her children that not only was this the route to heaven, but that our life here on earth would be happier and more prosperous if only we would put God first in our lives. Yes, parents, that means teaching our children while they are still under our feet to seek a relationship with Jesus Christ. Teach them to reach for him with both arms as high as they can reach. Just like this little girl. Even if you feel that you can’t reach high enough to touch him, just remember that his hand extends further down than you could ever reach up. But keep reaching up because he receives glory when his people reach up to praise him. I brought my own children up in much the same way. My only hope is this: that like this little child, they and their children and many others as well will continue to reach for Jesus Christ. In doing so, may the weeks and years ahead bring into view many beautiful sights that are deemed most precious.