Lessons from our children

As we have been blessed with hot summer days and blue skies, I walked down to Lac Leman (lake Geneva) recently to enjoy a sandwich and to shut out work thoughts and connect with God. One thought that came to mind is “What can I learn from my children?” Over the past few weeks I have reflected on this and would now like to share some of the revelations which came to me.

Proverbs 22:6 tells us that “… Point your kids in the right direction – when they’re old they won’t be lost …” (The Message). This is an important truth and has a lot to do about the examples we set for our children. I found it intriguing to turn things around and observe what I can learn from my children. I have only been at it for a couple of weeks and it was great fun to really pay attention to our interactions (just realised that this is a good recipe that I can follow to connect with and learn more from Jesus and God!). I experienced a great amount of satisfaction in receiving these little gems our kids hand out so easily and do so with absolute honestly.

Jesus’s teaching comes to mind. “…He put a child in the middle of the room. Then, cradling the little one in his arms, he said, “Whoever embraces one of these children as I do embraces me, and far more than me – God who sent me…” -Mark 9:36-37, (The Message).

I wish to share a few examples of some precious moments with my daughters and the lessons they have taught me recently:

  • One morning last week I stepped into the lounge feeling the need to connect a bit my youngest daughter, Emma. She is definitely the early bird in our house (also as chirpy as a bird, especially compared to the rest of our family early in the morning). Emma was watching television and I joined her and nibbled away at breakfast biscuits and sipped away on a fresh cup of coffee. We were both content. Between bites I asked her how she had slept the previous night, knowing well that she struggled to fall asleep. Her reply was pointed. “Well dad, why did you put me to bed early? You know, I have a very busy body and it was not tired yet, so I was not able to fall asleep”. I was surprised as her answer implied a deep awareness of her little inner world and was a very accurate and honest self-assessment. Although she does not know much about rhetorical questions I felt as if her answer was loaded with one (something like “… Hey dad, I am your daughter, you know me well and must know that I am a busy little bee, so what were you thinking when you put me to bed earlier last night …?”

I then started to think how she was able to answer so quickly. It was because she knew exactly what was going on in her inner world and she did not try to pretend about her state of own state of being. I then could not help to wonder why I sometimes can be so out of touch with what is going inside me (this sometimes happen, amazingly both on the joyful and the sad part of the spectrum). Perhaps far worse, there can be times when I do know but for some reason put up some façade. Is this part of growing older (I specifically did not add wiser here) or do we lose our childlike innocence along the way?

Mark 10:13-16 comes to mind “…The people brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: “Don’t push these children away. Don’t ever get between them and me. These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in. Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of blessing on them…” (The Message). Here is some food for thought for me – in times when my curtain of pretense is seeking a way to close, let me be able to seek God with the simplicity of a child make and to be as self-aware as Emma was when she answered my question.

Emma on a boat trip on lake Geneva
  • Emma looked at me the other morning as I was about to leave for the office and asked “… Dad, I want you to buy me some flowers today …” I was a bit taken aback (also remembered that I have not spoiled the girls in our house with flowers for a while). What flowers would you like me to buy, I asked. “Roses, red roses…”. And there it was – she knew exactly what she wanted and was not shy to ask me to get that for her (we are not talking computer games here, but flowers – she is turning nine soon). If you want to know, Emma, Lisa and Carine received flowers that evening!

This made me think about how I ask God for the things which are on my heart and also what I ask of Him? Do I ask in a round-about way or does it come straight up? Do I ask in real belief or with a hopeful but not fully convinced attitude?

“… For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened…”, Matthew 7:8; New International Version (NIV)

”… If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer….” Matthew 21:22; New International Version (NIV)

Angus Buchan in a message on 18 August 2013 wrote that “:.. The things which are impossible with men are possible with God (Luke 18:27). What does the Lord require from us? He requires simple, childlike faith. He requires us to ask Him, in the way a child asks a parent. He has promised to answer us and He will perform mighty miracles in our lives, if we will believe. There is nothing that is impossible for our God. The day you say it can’t be done, that’s the same day the Lord says, “I can do it.” Take those situations – those mountains you can’t get over and those valleys that are so deep that you can’t get through them – to God today …” (An excerpt from “A Farmer’s Year: Daily Truth to Change Your Life).

PS: It is Carine’s dad’s 70th birthday today. She has joined the rest of her family in South Africa and my prayer is that they have a wonderful time together and that the celebrations wil be blessed!

Ben de Bruyn – Copyright © 2013

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