Last night, my preschooler startled me during bedtime prayer. There we were, heads bowed, him saying the traditional ‘Now I lay me down to sleep,’ which we modify at the end by asking God to bless each member of our little family (including the dogs), when suddenly he added someone else. “And Lord, please make Ava and Charlotte’s* daddy, who is in the hospital, better.” My eyes shot open. Then, after a big sigh, and squinting his eyes even harder closed, he added the most tender, heartfelt “Amen” I’ve heard in awhile.
‘Amen’ means ‘it is certain.’ I think of this every time I say it. It girds me up, gives me strength and hope, and I picture the worldwide community of believers who trust in the evidence of things unseen. But watching my child say it? Wow. He was so sincere – totally devoid of any doubt, fear, or distrust. He reminded me:
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me,
and do not hinder them,
for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
— Matthew 19:14
The parallel verses – Mark 10:14 and Luke 18:16 – are nearly identical. It must have been quite a moment there with Christ, since children then were not considered as significant as adults, and the gospels vary in accounts of other events, but not this one.
It’s easy for me to think cynically here and say, ‘Oh, but young children…my son – he doesn’t have abstract thought yet. He’s not mature enough. He doesn’t have adult concerns. He can’t see the big picture.’ All true, and yet….
I think of my son’s small hands, folded together. He remembered to pray for his friends’ dad – someone I don’t even know – because at preschool he heard about this man’s need.
Lord, what are your other plans for how this little one might serve you, and what are you trying to teach me, as you see me watching him?
* Not their real names.