I've been quite busy the last two weeks. A family in town needed a temporary babysitter so I got the job. They'd drop their two year old and six year old off at my house at 4:30 a.m. and pick them back up at 6 or 7 p.m. The six year old girl went to school with my kids, but the the two year old boy stayed home with me and Hawken. Boy, that sure changed our routine to have him around! Actually we had no routine while the two year old hung out with us.
Before this temporary job started I was nervous. I didn't know if I'd be able to handle the long hours. It did mess up my sleep schedule but it was fun and challenging and a good reminder to me what a toddler is like -- how a toddler views the world.
I bring this up because I hadn't had a toddler around full-time for years -- actually since my 15 year old daughter was one. I remember those days but it is easy to forget how a very young child sees the world if you don't spend real time with a young child.
Glance at those verses I shared again. Jesus says we are to become like little children to enter the kingdom of heaven. How can we become like children if we don't spend time with children?
Presently I'm reading a book by Dr. Wess Stafford called Too Small To Ignore. It is about the importance of ministering to children, how they should be at the forefront of our churches' ministries, how if we neglect them we are neglecting ones who are so precious to God.
Most churches have VBS programs and kids' programs but do they integrate the kids into their services and ministry opportunities? Even children can and are used by God in great ways. They matter and they are as integral to God's work as any adult is.
I want to quote a lengthy passage from Stafford's book. This is found in the introduction on pages 7, 8 and 9:
"We cannot claim that the Scriptures are unclear on how precious children are to God Almighty. He not only loves them with a love we cannot begin to understand, but he respects and believes in them. The Bible tells more than a few stories in which God had such an important task to be done that he simply could not entrust it to an adult . . . Deep down, I have come to the conclusion that the reason they (children) are such a low priority to the great human institutions that seek to control the world, both secular and Christian, is that an invisible battle, a spiritual war, rages over each and every child. It is above us and beyond us and engages the full fury of the hosts of both heaven and hell. Children may bwe ignored by government, church, and mission -- but not by Satan or God Almighty.
"First, we must understand that Satan knows the heart of God. It is Satan's greatest joy and highest priority to do all in his power to break the heart of Elohim, the creator of heaven and earth. Remember that, as Lucifer, Satan was a witness to the process of creating the world. I can imagine heaven's one-time chief angel watching with great interest as the Spirit of God hovered over a dark and formless world . . . At the moment of birth, all heaven stands in breathless anticipation and breaks into shouts of joy and praise. Each child is born into the world loved and full of potential to bring joy to the heart of God. A little flame flickers deep in the child's being. It reflects a dignity and worth, made in the image of God Almighty.
"Meanwhile Satan and his evil hosts stand ready to pounce and destroy that life as quickly and completely as possible, knowing how that will break the heart of God. All of heaven and hell are present and focused on the newborn life -- for vastly different reasons. Both have strategic designs for this little one.
"Given this frightening warfare between heaven and hell, it is all the more ironic that children are seemingly so unimportant to us adults. While all of heaven stands and cheers whenever a little one is born, and all of hell hurls itself at its destruction, we glibly go about our lives and ministries oblivious of the raging battle or the strategic importance of the children around us day by day."
He says somewhere in the book we should consider every encounter with a child as a divine appointment.
And why not?
Whenever God brings someone in our lives, it is for His purposes. Don't forget this. Realize how important you are. You may be used to change the course of an entire life!