Father’s Day has an empty tone for me. My wife and I never had any children. Both my Dad and father-in-law are dead. I still have a desire to honor dads out there in some fashion. So, here are seven lessons I’ve picked up from filling in this summer at our church’s toddler ministry.
- Separation anxiety is normal not fatal. Many children cry when they’re dropped off for us to watch them. Some of them require more attention than others to overcome this emotional over-load. Somehow they all survive to return home at the end of the church service. Even Jesus endured this emotion in the Garden of Gethsemane. His tears that fell like great drops of blood came from the thought of being separated from the Father while our sins were placed on Him for three days. Even He lives to tell about it.
- Music has a great calming effect on the hurting. I’ll never forget the Sunday the kids were all agitated at the beginning of our time. Somebody turned some music on for background noise. The sudden quiet took my breath away briefly. We all settled into a calmer mood after that. Jesus led His disciples in a hymn as they left the upper room the night of His betrayal. I think it was as much for Him as it was for them.
- It’s okay to admit when you need to be carried. There’s a time when we leave the room we’re in for a group story and singing time. Many of the kids walk on their own. Some need an adult to hold their hand. Others require us to lift them up and carry them. The journey into the unknown holds different levels of anxiety for each person. As a man in my 50’s I still feel this need for reassurance at different levels at times. Twice in the gospels we’re told angels attended Jesus: Mark 1:13 was Jesus’ forty day fast in the wilderness; Luke 22:43 was Jesus’ anguish in Gethsemane.
- Bowel movements happens. Clean them up and get on with life. Men aren’t allowed to change diapers, that’s a church policy I can live with. One of the women removed a wet diaper from a girl only to have the little stinker do number 2 about a minute later. She had to retrieve a diaper from the next room to re-do the entire process. How many times have I made a mess of my life just after I got things put back together? Don’t ask. Jesus repeatedly went behind His disciples to teach them lessons they should have learned already. I guess I’m just one of His followers, too.
- You don’t need words to get your message across. Children have no problem letting adults know how they feel. If they’re happy they laugh. Crying let’s us know something’s wrong. We know they want to be picked up when they walk up to us with their hands raised. Adults are the ones who say one thing while feeling quite the opposite. It’s a learned trait. It only took one look from Jesus to Peter to let Simon know Jesus knew he blew it. Jesus restored Peter after His resurrection in spite of this infraction. Hang in there. God isn’t finished with you, yet. We’re told in Romans 8:26 that the Spirit groans for us when we can’t come up with the words our hearts long to express in prayer.
- There’s nothing like the voice of a true father to brighten a life. I love to watch the expressions on those little faces when parents come to pick their kids up after the church service. No matter how intently they’re playing with a toy they take in a breath and their face lights up when they recognize their own father’s presence. How many true Christians long to be with God for eternity? Count me in. I know I love to feel that peace that passes understanding whenever I hear a word from God spoken directly to me. Jesus talked about His followers hearing the Father’s voice being like sheep who know their shepherd’s voice.
- No matter how bad life seems at the moment, there’s coming a time I’ll be called home. Some kids let us know when they’re tired of spending time with us and they just want to go home. I can relate. Quite frankly I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired of dealing with the things this cursed world has to offer. I know I have to hang in there to complete the task I’ve been given on this planet until I’m called home. I’m sure you are, too. It may be selfish, but, there are days I just want all this madness to end, preferably with the rapture so we can all be removed from the suffering. Sometimes I think I can hear them setting the table in heaven for the great Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Can’t you? That’s how much Jesus is ready for us to come home in my humble opinion.
I’m beginning to see why Jesus said we need to receive the kingdom of God like little children (Matthew 18:17). Aren’t you?
I’ll see you later. Wade