People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Luke 18:14-18
At my baby shower for Olivia, we received a very thoughtful gift from a sweet, godly woman in our church–a painting of this very scene. It’s of Jesus, with open arms, happily greeting little ones. I love that his face is toward the people instead of you; your focus is on his actions, his welcoming.
We hung it up above Olivia’s crib, and we have used it countless times to teach her that she is important to Jesus, that He cares for her, and that His arms are open for her. It really has been a neat tool of encouragement; it didn’t even dawn on me to use it that way until about a year ago, when Liv was one and a half and had started talking to us.
“Who’s that man?” she would ask, pointing to her painting.
“That’s Jesus,” I’d say. “And He loves you soooo much. Do you know how much? More than even this!” I’d open my arms wide to match the painting, and so would she. She usually would ask me about it while we were sitting reading stories, or singing songs… it was a great segueway to sing “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” or “Jesus Loves the Little Children.”
It’s pretty fascinating and heart-melting to watch the gears in her head turn over these things; she is willing to listen and learn. When you infuse encouragement, and speak loving truth to her, you can see how she feels in her eyes, and her little crooked smiles. Loved. How important these days are to build such a foundation of trust and truth!
One day, while I was skimming through Thriving Family (a magazine), I read about an exercise to do with your toddlers to teach them some truths about God. You counted 5 truths on their fingers, saying one per finger:
I did this with Liv a few times, and she loved it. It has become something we still do together at bedtime. When we first began doing this, I was also studying through the book of John, and came across verse 28 in Chapter 10: “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.”
I LOVED this! It instantly reminded me of our little hand exercise, and I decided to add it onto the end of our bedtime routine. So now, we’ll say the five truths on our fingers, and then we point to our palm and say:
It is a joy and responsibility to love on our kids, and a big slice of that means imparting truth. Let’s spread these kinds of seeds as much as we can, with our own kids, and with any child in our lives. Sometimes you don’t know if they’re listening, or if it will sink in or not, but shouldn’t we hope and pray that it will?
For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations. Isaiah 61:11