"love the children of God"
1 John 5:2
I served in a classroom in church yesterday. It was the toddlers' class, so there isn't as much teaching going on as there is watching, playing with, and entertaining.
It was only a handful of kids. The oldest was four, and the youngest just turned two. But there was so much diversity in personality. There were two boys, and the rest were girls. One of the boys was just as charming as could be; he just toddled around the room playing with toys, or sitting when we told him it was time for the Bible story, or snacking when we gave him animal crackers, or coloring when we got out crayons and coloring pages. He smiled endearingly, and never said a word.
The other boy, well, he was on the other end of the spectrum. He climbed on tables, and refused to join the other children when it was time to go sing. He threw toys and tried to leave the room more than once. I used to have a teacher who would have said he was zigging when he was supposed to be zagging.
And then there were the girls. Two of them, though not related, have a lot in common. A surprising amount, in fact. One of them comes with her mother, the other with her grandmother. They are very close to the same age, and both have a white mother and a black father, so they both have that exotic beauty that comes from having mixed-race parents. And though they are young, they consider each other friends, having seen each other at church, and attended each other's birthday parties. It's sweet to watch them interacting with each other.
Another of the girls was an adorable, pigtailed, redhead. She was only visiting our church. She and her family live out of state, but they were visiting relatives who attend our church, so they came too. She's been there many times, and feels comfortable. She was so interested and involved in the story; it was sweet to watch.
Working with children is really not my forte. I help once a month because we need volunteers in the Children's Ministry, not because I feel especially called to be there. And that wonderful diversity of the children is part of the "problem". I have raised two kids. I mean, I'm still raising them, but they are not really "kids" anymore. One is a teenager, and one will be soon. So the "raising" feels more like "guiding" now. Reminding and redirecting my kids when they are wandering off the path a little.
And I loved raising my kids. I loved each new phase ~ even the difficult ones ~ and treasured the characteristics of every age and stage. But I knew what to do with them. It was trial and error, but I got to know how to encourage, how to discipline.... what their strengths and weaknesses are. I don't have that advantage with the kids at church. I just don't know them that well.
So I left feeling frustrated today. But at the same time, amazed at our Father. I am in awe when I think of how well He knows each of us, and how much He loves us. He knows our strengths and weaknesses; how to encourage and strengthen us... and He has limitless patience when we climb on tables or run from discipline.
I'm reminded once again of how being aware of my weaknesses illuminates His strength for me.
~ "Behold what manner of love the Father
has bestowed on us,
that we should be called
children of God!" ~
1 John 3:1