It was, of course, Easter Sunday. The service my wife and I attended was among the most unique we have ever experienced. We had been invited by our daughter to attend a special mid-morning Easter service with her and her family at a local high school football stadium.
We gladly accepted her invitation, in part because we desired to be there to be with her three young sons (and our three young grandsons). All three boys are under the age of five. She needed the help; and we needed the blessing.
The air was filled with excitement as the stadium filled and the service got under way. The music, though a bit loud for my 59 year old ears, was obviously God-ordained, especially for that particular gathering. Everyone around us seemed to be thoroughly engaged in sincerely worshipping the Lord.
The sermon that followed was what I considered to be an excellent message, in both its content and its delivery. In it, the pastor challenged all in attendance to consider what the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ means to us today. He delivered one profound truth after another, leaving me much to ponder.
At the same time, I will have to admit that I really only listened with one ear, as it were. With the other ear, and with both eyes, I largely helped to occupy my three rambunctious grandsons. As we played with Play-Doh (which was, along with similar assorted items and activities, provided by the host church to each child in an Easter activity bag upon entrance), I found myself reminiscing about the myriad of church services I myself attended as a small child.
(Would to the Good Lord I had had such distractions! Devoid of any such devices, I usually came up with my own. I literally counted every single fleck in the ceiling of the little country church we attended. I found ways to fight mighty wars between the fingers of my right and left hands. I formed imaginative images out of the distorted lights emanating from the stained glass windows; and on the rarest of occasions when a wasp became trapped inside the little sanctuary, I followed its every bounding movement off of the ceiling with unbridled enthusiasm and rapt attention!
I thought about these things and many more as I vainly endeavored to occupy my grandsons’ attention in order to allow my poor daughter a few moments respite in which she could actually worship God.
In the process, quite unexpectedly I was confronted again with the notion of what it means to be a child! As I molded Play-Doh into first a ring for their littler fingers, and then a watch for their little wrists, all the creativity, all the amazement, and in fact all the wonder of childhood suddenly flooded back over me! In and of itself, this was quite an experience. For a fair portion of the duration of the pastor’s sermon, I enjoyed the momentary escape from the pressures of adulthood into the joys of childhood.
Then came the end of the pastor’s sermon and the biggest blessing of all. As only a God-gifted speaker can do, he skillfully undertook an invitation, during which, “with every head bowed and every eye closed and no one moving about”, he clearly presented the plan of salvation and led any would-be converts present through the so- called “sinner’s prayer”.
It was at this point that the Lord truly spoke to me! As the Pastor was conducting the invitation, and in the process, leading any and every one present desiring to become a Christian through the sinner’s prayer, a little boy, who was clearly not more than two to three years of age and sitting with his family one row beneath us, began to pray OUT LOUD, repeating phrase by phrase, the exact words of the pastor that he was hearing over the loudspeakers.
As he fiddled with his toys, he stated loudly and clearly enough to be heard for twenty five feet in any direction the following words…
“Dear Lord…” (Followed by a pause while the Pastor spoke.)
“I know that I am a sinner…” (Followed by another pause while the Pastor spoke.)
“I know that I deserve judgment and Hell…” (Followed by yet another pause while the Pastor spoke.)
“But, this very moment, I confess my sins…” (Followed by still another pause while the Pastor spoke.)
“I ask forgiveness of my sins…” (Followed by a still further pause while the Pastor spoke.)
“And I ask you to come into my heart, make me a Christian, and give me new life.” (Followed by one final pause while the Pastor spoke.)
“Amen!” (This last spoken heartily!)
Along with around fifty or so surrounding people, I was deeply touched by the simplicity and innocence of the words being offered up by the little child. I do not know that he knew what he was actually saying, given his tender young age. It is likely that he has not yet reached the age of accountability in God’s eyes. But to his credit, he was clearly engaged!
As I beheld all of this, the admonition given by Jesus (in the New Testament Gospel of Matthew, chapter 18, verse 3) came to mind: “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
I’m glad I got to be a child once. I’m glad I got to be a so-called “little tyke”. In the process, I’m glad I got to live in a carefree time in which I was easily distracted by things that would later prove to be of little consequence! I am also glad that my parents took me to church; for it was there that I slowly began to comprehend the meaning of becoming a child of God!
For, in accordance with God’s perfect plan, there came a moment in time when I trusted in Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior. And when this happened, it was done with simple child-like faith and obedience. I accepted the fact that I too was a sinner and that I deserved death and Hell. But God sent His One and Only Son into this world to die for my sins on Good Friday, that they might be forgiven, and then to rise again on Easter Sunday, in order that I might be given new life in Christ Jesus!
At the same time, I am glad that there eventually came another time when, as the apostle Paul says (in First Corinthians, chapter 13, verse 11): “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.”
You see… Becoming a Christian is easy; but being one is not. It requires that we not only receive Jesus as Savior at the foot of the cross; but also that we go forth from the empty tomb committed to serve Him as Lord! This latter part is not always easy. It entails giving ourselves completely to Him, and yielding fully to His Divine will and plan for our lives!
And yet, as we do this, god works His miraculous power in our lives and we find that we grow in grace, eventually becoming the mature followers of Christ we were each meant to be. We may start out as little tykes spiritually, but hopefully, over time, we grow into strong, fully developed believers, able to reproduce ourselves in others and helping them to become all God intended for them as well!
A popular children’s product commercial includes a well know phrase at the end of its jingle: “I’m a big kid now!” Sunday reminded me that this is exactly what I hope I now am spiritually. Having given my heart to Jesus, I will always see myself as a child of God. But I hope I will also be seen by others as a big child of God, in the sense that it will be evident to all that I have grown into both who and what God desired for me to be!
What I hope for myself, I also hope for you as well.