Children are quite an amazing gift. I mentioned in my first post (“Faith Like a Child”) that my best friends have twins. They are 19 months old now and as exploratory as ever. Sometimes they can try my patience, but then there are those serene moments that I don’t want to end. A couple of times this week I had the joy of holding each boy after he woke up from his nap. One twin one day, the other twin another day. After waking up, each one discovered that he was still tired. So I rocked him back to sleep. It was such a wonderful feeling knowing that he wanted me to hold him, that he felt comfortable in my arms. I loved looking at his little face and seeing him at peace. I enjoyed feeling his breathing (and sometimes hearing a snore or two). No matter what has been going on in my life lately, it didn’t matter at that moment. With everything going in the world—ISIS, Ebola, Russia and Ukraine, the moral depravity of our nation—this was a moment to remember the beauty of innocence.
I feel so blessed to hold these children when I know the innocence of children around the world is being shattered. How can humanity justify slaughtering such a precious gift, whether it’s abortion, decapitation by a terrorist, or indoctrinating them to fight for evil? Such people are certainly not justified before God (unless they ask for forgiveness). Consider what Jesus says in Luke 18:15-17,
“And they were bringing even their babies to Him so that He would touch them, but when the disciples saw it, they began rebuking them. But Jesus called for them, saying, ‘Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.’”
In Matthew 18:1-7, 10 Jesus teaches His disciples a similar, but more detailed, message:
“At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, ‘Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, ‘Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes! …See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven.’”
As you can read, children are important to God, and Christ uses them as examples of how we should live.
It is also the responsibility of parents and/or guardians to train their children in the wisdom of God and teach them about His wondrous works. Psalm 78:5-8 says,
“For He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers that they should teach them to their children, that the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born, that they may arise and tell them to their children, that they should put their confidence in God and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments, and not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that did not prepare its heart and whose spirit was not faithful to God.”
Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Additionally, Solomon gives his son a great piece of advice in Proverbs 3:11-12, “My son, do not reject the discipline of the Lord or loathe His reproof, for whom the Lord loves He reproves, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.”
Discipline is not only important for children, but for Christians of all ages. This citation from Proverbs is repeated in Hebrews 12:5-6. Paul (this is who I believe wrote Hebrews) continues to explain the necessity of discipline in vv. 7-11. He not only provides insight into how children ought to be disciplined (particularly by their fathers in this context), but how we should receive discipline from the Lord:
“It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”
As most parents/guardians will attest, disciplining a child is never fun. But we know it’s necessary in order to instill obedience and shape godly character. Our intentions are for good as are the Father’s intentions for our lives. The need for discipline is even more critical as immorality is increasingly becoming the norm in society. Yet even amidst such depravity, we can still have hope in the Lord and experience joy in His children who bring the light of innocence into this dark world.
Children teach us to have humility and complete trust before the Father. They demonstrate the importance of discipline in our lives. And, important for me, they teach us how to slow down and appreciate just being with one another.
As I slowly rock a baby to sleep, I can experience peace in a world of chaos.
Innocence (Originally written October 1-2, 2014)
As you lay your head upon my chest
and gently fall asleep,
I can’t help but hold you tight
and feel a sense of peace.
Such tiny features
so beautifully created,
I can’t fathom how your life
could ever be debated.
You bring immense joy
into a world full of pain—
a shining light,
growing brighter every day.
A gift from God,
you bring hope into my life,
teaching me how to have faith
and to let go of strife.
In this depraved world
you outshine the rest,
possessing what most have lost:
God’s blessing of pure innocence.
© Lauren Heiligenthal