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Heart Matters: Color My Faith

Have you ever noticed that no one's made crayons specifically for adults? I wonder why. Crayons -- in my opinion -- are one of our best inventions. They're a great innovation -- simple yet efficient. They never run out of ink, they come in all sorts of cool colors, and they'll never bust and leak all over your favorite shirt. I'd happily use crayons on a daily basis.

But they only come in kid size. That's no accident; kids appreciate crayons to a much fuller extent than adults ever could. If you work with kids, you know it's true.

That's because there's something uniquely special about children -- about their hearts. And, in fact, kids are a lot like crayons. They're packed with love and joy; they're resilient. They're so resilient, in fact, that we adults take their natural toughness for granted and place undue responsibility and expectations on them. But even in the midst of the darkest storm, a child rarely loses the ability to brighten a room.

Crayons remind us of the art of childhood. The joy. The wonder. I'm especially struck by children's natural inquisitiveness. Especially when they hit that developmental milestone where every question becomes "Why?" Why is the sky blue? Why is the grass green? Why don't you have all of your hair?

Remarkably, they trust our answers. I have no clue why the grass is green; I must've missed that part of science class. Yet a child accepts my silly answer: "It's celebrating St. Patrick's Day."

In Luke 18:17 Jesus said, "Anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." It doesn't say cannot or does not, but will not. Why did Jesus say that? I wonder, what if Jesus had simply come to earth -- no miracles, no healings, no walking on water -- simply showed up and said, "What's up? I'm God's son. Nice to meet you." Who would've believed him? A little child.

That's what Jesus says. Not just any child, but a "little child." What's the difference? I think it's got to do with love. At a certain point in all our lives, love becomes an emotion. Loving a little child is feeding, holding, playing with, and disciplining that child. Love to a little child is an action. And that's how little children give it. They don't just say they love you; they wholeheartedly give their love to you.

They pack in love like a big yellow box of crayons -- like the dinky 8-pack version. That's the big, unconditional love Jesus talks about. While we adults scratch our heads and try to figure out how to love our enemies, Jesus pulls a little child to him and says, "Love me like this child loves me." Simply believing, simply loving, simply accepting -- for kids, this is no big trick. But despite kids' obvious expertise in these areas, we still tend to presume that one day kids will grow up to "really" worship God. Why? Is it the simplicity? the music? the laughter? the crayons?

These are the very things that make children's worship real worship. I myself need many, many more of these things in my life. I need Jesus to pull me to him and hold me as I simply and absolutely believe in him. And that's why I stay close to children's ministry. I figure if I'm going to color my world with the faith of a little child, I'd better stay close to the crayons.

 

Michael Britton is a children's pastor in Harpersville, Alabama.

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