When we serve we often get to experience God in intimate and personal ways. I recently returned from a service trip to South Africa with an organization called HOPE WorldWide. As we worked with children in some of the poorest communities in Johannesburg we gave our entire hearts to these communities but what we received in return was so much more powerful.
Matt 11:25 (NCV) “At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the people who are wise and smart. But you have shown them to those who are like little children.”
Children teach us so much. Imagine if we all forgave like little children. If we could say, “I’m sorry” and then go right back to playing together like children do. No bitterness, no holding on, no fight to get right in our hearts to view someone the way we used to before they hurt us-all released. Children mimic everything you do. It’s amazing how teachable they are and how quickly they absorb information and adapt. Imagine if we could learn like children, be as generous, vulnerable, wholehearted and loving like them. When I was younger there was a lot going on around me that was not good, but it was what it was, and I didn’t really know what it all meant. I couldn’t understand the longer term consequences and in some ways that was good. I lived and loved in the moment as a child.
Matt18:3 “I tell you the truth, you must change and become like little children. Otherwise, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
When I can see the world through a child’s eyes I can see what God sees. I can see beyond my circumstances, people’s opinions and my own insecurities. Children don’t care what others think of them when they are young, they say and do whatever comes to mind and we revel in it, post it to social media and let it go viral, why? Because there is something about living wholeheartedly and showing the world who we are that pulls at our heart. I used to care so much what people thought that it prevented me from fully engaging with my whole heart. Being with the kids in South Africa that have so little yet love and give so much filled me and I gave to them with my whole heart. I went with a heart and mind that didn’t care anymore what anyone thought but God. It enabled me to only care about loving and giving with all I had because they deserved my all and they gave their all. One woman living in a small tin shack was quoted as saying, “You must love a child from corner to corner.” She was referencing the diameter of the shack. Imagine loving each person God places before us from corner to corner.
There is something powerful that stirs inside when a small child reaches out their hand to you, or gives you a hug, or laughs with their entire being. You can’t help but see God in their eyes, to feel his presence. When Jesus spent time with children, a friend recently concluded, “I can’t help but think it was because they reminded him of his Father.” I agree.
The God we serve reveals His love to us through little children. I had the privilege to serve them, we get the privilege to serve in many different ways but what we get in return can be so much greater, it can be the very experience of the presence of God Himself. So we all grow up and our expectations and references change for people but at the end of the day, if we can seek and see those before us the way God does, as His children, doing the best they can with what they have, it can powerfully transform how we experience day to day life. It empowers us to love others in such a way that can change this hurting world one person at a time.