It seems every time I am with our grandchildren I witness “new” things. As they explore and discover their own abilities they say or do new things that make us laugh or stand in awe of how fast they learn and grow. But “new” is really a matter of perspective since there is nothing new under the sun. In other words, it might be new for them but not for us yet we delight in watching them. I make this point because though people say we learn a lot from kids it is more that they remind us of what we have already learned in life, but simply don’t do. We “know” what is right and proper and still make poor choices where very young children are usually honest and transparent. It is this purity and their ability to be “raw” which enamors us.
Lately Holy Spirit has reminded me of the responsibility we have been given to teach and train children who learn from us. He tells us to become like them, repossessing those qualities we admire to fulfill the godly role He has given us as well as perpetuate true followers of Christ. Matthew 18:2-6 “Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them (disciples), and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as a little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me. But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.’”
Imagine this scene as Jesus sets a child right in the middle of the disciples. And then remember this scene and His words each time a child is set in the midst of you! These are powerful and fear-inducing words because they reveal the serious responsibility we are given as adults. We admire the beauty and innocence of children yet we are to be as beautiful and innocent as they are, keeping these godly character traits as we mature, interact, and impact the world around us with the light of Jesus, teaching them to do the same. We do this by spending time “learning” from the Lord and applying His truths throughout our lifetime.
So as children remind us of things we have either forgotten or put aside in lieu of maturity we ought to take those reminders and become like little children again not resigning ourselves to simple observances of how cute they are. We will then take those reminders, lay hold of those traits we have put on the back burner, and activate them again. I receive stark reminders of back burner traits while spending time with my grandchildren because not only do they trigger memories of my own children but they prompt me to recall how precious the simple things in life are such as innocence, integrity, honesty, wisdom, trust, genuineness, and love! When these qualities are exhibited in childlike faith we realize how far we have wandered and it moves us to re-activate them. Children demonstrate an authenticity in their behavior, emotions, and responses that far surpass the games we play as adults. But we can stop playing games anytime we want and start living by being real with God and with each other!
In the “realness” of their emotions we also witness demanding and slightly irritating behavior! One thing that happens with my grandchildren is they will have what I call “meltdowns”. These are random outbursts of crying out for Mommy or Daddy because they suddenly realize their parents are no longer where they left them. Recently I was privy to several meltdowns and besides being a bit frustrated I was also drawing conclusions such as; overtiredness, super sensitive, over-stimulated, or just too young to deal with separation. But then I was suddenly jolted by the voice of God as He said to look beneath the behavior at the desire of their hearts! When I did this He reminded me that the desire of every child is to be with their father and mother! Being close or even in the arms of another trusted person isn’t good enough. It is okay for a while and certainly I am able to calm them with my love and presence but it is still never as good as Daddy and Mommy! My grandchildren want to be “IN” the loving embrace of Dad or Mom. Likewise, it is the desire of every child of God to be with their heavenly Father! Close is good, but nothing compares to the loving embrace of my Father!
When the kiddos have their meltdowns I have tried to distract them to no avail and one day in the midst of a meltdown, Holy Spirit said, “Just tell them the truth.” Wow! How simple can this get? So, I did! I told them Daddy and Mommy were not around but Grandma was! I was it! As good as it gets! Imagine my surprise when the meltdown began to solidify and they regained their composure! I didn’t have to make up stories, busy them with something else, make promises I couldn’t keep. I just had to tell them the truth and they accepted it! Sometimes during a meltdown I might give them a bit more explanation depending on the situation but they get the point and realize life is not ending without their parents and then we can get back to enjoying our time together. We may even have to go through this process several times when their parents are out of sight but repetitiveness is part of training, and though it isn’t always fun it is always fruitful!
Interestingly, these meltdowns can occur even if the parents are present but “unavailable” to their children. I have noted my grandchildren get frustrated when their parents are doing other things and can’t be with them, specifically in their arms or laps, which can lead to an eruption of tears with little to no warning as they scream “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy” or “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy”. The volume and velocity with which they yelp gives the impression they are being severely tortured when the only thing wrong is they are not with their parents. Consoling and distracting works no better in these scenarios. Again during one of these episodes, Holy Spirit reminded me, “Just tell them the truth.” When I firmly show and tell them their parents are right there but Grandma is right here, they eventually settle as the reality hits they are safe, loved, and their parents will return!
And then… there is the reunion! I ALWAYS enjoy watching the joy erupt when the little ones are swept up into the loving arms of their eager parents and wrapped in tight embraces. If I thought the emotions were strong in the separation, they are dazzling and brilliant in the reunions! The children hold tightly to their parent’s necks with no intention of letting go. The meltdowns my grandchildren experience are simple reminders of how deeply they love their parents. The more time they spend with Daddy and Mommy the less apt they are to have meltdowns. Surely they love, trust, and interact with other people, but nothing compares to Daddy and Mommy! No one and nothing else satisfies like their own parents! Why is that? Because no one, not even Grandma knows them like Daddy and Mommy know them!
As I “replayed” various meltdowns in my mind, I delighted in this revelation because God showed me my desire is or at least should be the same. You do know adults can have meltdowns too right? I came to realize I have similar meltdowns when my desire to be with Him is left unfulfilled. Maybe I don’t yell and scream but often there are tears, hurt, loneliness, and misunderstandings. I just want to be with Him! The more time I spend in Him the less likely I am to have a meltdown! We need to be with our heavenly Father, to spend time in His presence, in His arms, in His sanctuary. No one and nothing else satisfies like Abba Father! Why is that? Because no one on earth, not even us, know ourselves like our heavenly Father knows us!
Part of becoming like little children as Jesus said is to desire being “in” the arms of our heavenly Daddy as much as my grandchildren want to be in the arms of their parents! Father God is as eager to hold us as my children are excited to scoop us their children and hold them tightly! Abba Father wants to hold us close to His heart and share a mutual love like my children cleave to their children delighting in the love they share. And just as my grandchildren feel utterly safe and secure with their parents, we can wholly rest in the refuge of our heavenly Father where all fear is gone and all longings are met perfectly. You see, it is not enough for us to be “close” to God – we want and need to be in Him!
Let’s face it! For children there are good places and good people to be with (like grandparents) but then… there is the BEST place and the BEST ONES to be with – their parents. So it is with God – Surely being with our friends and family in Christ is very good and necessary, being close to God is great, but the BEST place is actually being IN Him!
One thing I notice with my grandchildren. If they are busy being about their own business, not feeling the need for Dad or Mom, they live with the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. They just fly by the seat of their pants so to speak. But always, and I mean ALWAYS, there comes a time when they abruptly realize someone is missing. Their parents! Suddenly “out of sight, out of mind” is not working for them anymore! And they will let everyone know reality has hit and they do not like being separated!
Ah yes! We too become busy with our own business, not aware of our need for Christ Jesus, Holy Spirit and Father God, living unknowingly with the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. Sure we “know” God is with us but we aren’t giving Him a second thought much less a first. But then that time comes when we are jolted by reality and realize Someone is missing! Our heavenly Father! It is then we discover we have roamed and feel vulnerable. No substitute will do. We need Him! Father God has this to say to you and me: Deuteronomy 31:6,8 “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you. And the LORD, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.”
Today let’s become like little children and cleave to our heavenly Father! Let’s receive His reminders as we lead our children onward in Christ! Let’s glory in His embrace and live in all honesty, purity, wisdom, trust, genuineness, authenticity, and love! Let’s lead the little ones by our actions AND our words!
The next time you are having a meltdown, try melting down in His presence!