Jeremiah, my three-year-old grandson, follows me around just like my shadow, talking every minute. I usually try to answer his endless stream of questions and teach him something useful, but after a while I get exhausted. He is not content to just talk; he finishes every statement with a question, “Isn’t that right?” The other day I was working on a project and was trying to concentrate on something tedious. I was trying to ignore him, but was growing a little irritated at his interruptions of my every thought. So when he next “demanded” a response from me, I answered him in an absentminded, flat, clipped tone that didn’t welcome any further discussion.
I was drawn back to reality when his tone changed from that of a constantly prattling child to a serious challenge: “Why are you talking like that?” “What?” I asked. “Why are you talking like that?” “Talking like what?” I asked. “Like that,” he answered in an accusatory tone.
Wow! A three-year-old psychologist! He was perceiving my attitude and judged it to be inappropriate. Rebuked by a three-year-old, indeed I was! He was simply expecting the best from me, nothing but love and support, complete appreciation and dedication. Instantly I repented and started pouring “interested,” rapt attention into this three-year-old’s important conversation.
How do you judge the age or maturity of a soul? When can it be hurt—perhaps even permanently scarred? I fear that we may be doing the most serious damage to a child’s soul in their youngest, most formative years, simply because we can’t see what is behind their “childish” prattle—a God-instilled love for and desire to be with “their” grownups. Is it any wonder that Jesus said so poignantly to his disciples (and to us!): “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14)?
Lord, please give these old eyes renewed incentive to see what you see in the lives of all the little ones you send my way. Amen!