Watch the Children

by Nan Corbitt Allen

He called a small child and had him stand among them. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “unless you turn and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:2-3 CSV

I hear this verse a lot.  But I’ve personally never used it in regards to babysitting or keeping children. Watching them was not something I considered the essence of the assignment. But recently I heard the phrase again, and so I decided to really watch children to see what Jesus is talking about.

One group of kids I observed, obviously on a school field trip, seemed to find joy in something as simple as walking. Even in a straight line. With the teacher leading like a mama duck, the little ones were following in single file. However, each “duckling” had his or her own style of walking. Some skipped, some twirled, some stepped over cracks in the sidewalk. Some even walked backwards. I remember asking myself.  When did I lose the sheer joy of just…walking? At my age, I consider walking a chore rather than a pleasure.

In this group of children, I saw no one who seemed to be anxious about who was going to pay for the outing or who was going to transport them safely home. Someone older, and perhaps, more responsible, had made all of the arrangements. The leader’s main chore was to keep up with her charges, often counting heads and reminding them to stay with the group. This configuration had incorporated a buddy system, giving each child a little responsibility, but only for one other person.

Paul wrote to ancient Corinth, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put aside childish things” (1 Corinthians 13: 11 CSV). Here Paul is alluding to childishness as immaturity and carelessness. An unsavory trait.

But Matthew recorded this: “[Jesus] called a small child and had him stand among them. ‘Truly I tell you,’ He said, ‘unless you turn and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven’” (Matthew 18:2 CSV). The innocence and trust of a child will usher one into the Kingdom of God.

Childish behavior is wanting our own way, dishonoring those in authority, and dismissing the consequences of our actions. But childlikeness? Oh, this involves trusting Him who is in charge and finding joy in everyday things.

A few years ago I wrote this.

Of Such Is the Kingdom

He dances with joy on a summer day

He sings with “heart” the songs of play

He laughs at every rhymes he makes

Because he is a child….

She skips to tunes she feels inside

She patiently counts the stars at night

She never tires of asking why

Because she is a child….

So I wanna dance

I wanna sing

I wanna laugh

I wanna be

Like the little child again.

I wanna run into my father’s arms

The one I trust with all my heart

Of such is the kingdom

The Kingdom of God.

Watch the children. They might teach you something that will change your life, or it will at least remind you of things you already know.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

Nan Corbitt Allen

About the author: Nan Corbitt Allen has written over 100 published dramatic musicals, sketchbooks, and collections in collaboration with Dennis Allen, her husband of 45+ years. A three-time Dove Award winner, Nan’s lyrics and dramas have been performed around the world. Dennis and Nan have sold almost 3 million choral books.

Nan and Dennis retired in 2020 from full time teaching at Truett McConnell University. They now live south of Nashville. They have two grown sons and two beautiful grandchildren.

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Nan’s book, Small Potatoes @ the Piggly Wiggly, is a collection of devotionals that reveal the great impact seemingly insignificant, routine experiences can have in our lives. She describes what she learned of God’s providence and wisdom while growing up in the Deep South in the 1950’s and 60’s.

Join the conversation: What have you learned from watching the children?

My Tarnished World of Wonder

by Linda Evans Shepherd @LindaShepherd

 When I was a child, I spoke, thought, and reasoned in childlike ways as we all do. But when I became a man, I left my childish ways behind. 1 Corinthians 13:11  (VOICE)

When I was five years old, I had a front yard filled with wonderful secrets, like the enchanted oak tree. I discovered what looked like a tiny doorknob made of an old staple in the base of the tree. I spent hours imagining the tiny fairies using that doorknob in the deep of the night, so they could come out and dance on my lawn. Then there were the glorious azalea bushes that would burst forth in lush pink pedals just in time to celebrate the risen Savior and serve as the backdrop for my mother’s annual Easter photos. My front yard served as the setting of epic games of hide and seek, adventures of the walkie-talkie spies, and our amazing cowboy shootouts.

My old pit-pull dog ruled the yard, serving guard over us kids, and sometimes even killing the venomous copperheads that hid beneath the house. I marveled at the great oaks that stood like sentries after surviving many hurricanes in time. I’d often wondered if their old knotholes were scars left behind from the flying bullets of a Civil War battle waged a hundred years before I was born.

Not long ago, my husband and I drove through our Texas hometown and decided to drive past the old place that loomed so large in my memories. When we pulled up to the old house, we were amazed at how much remained the same. There, still intact, were the hurricane sentries, the old azalea bushes, and the front porch that the neighbor kids transformed into a stage for our talent ‘shows’.

However, the yard didn’t look as I remembered it. It looked small, shabby, and not at all like the place of wonder that I remembered.

My husband and I were taken aback. This was the cherished place of all of my dear, most precious memories?

Time has a way of tarnishing and shrinking the old places we idolized as children. My perspective had changed from that of a tiny child to the viewpoint of an adult.

Time may have a way of giving us new perspectives, but so does maturity in the Lord. For when we look at life’s disappointments, difficulties, and trials, our eyes may want to focus on the ugly pain and bitterness. But when we look at these same circumstances through the eyes of God’s love and grace, we will begin to notice His life-changing potential and miracles everywhere.

Paul wrote about a mature perspective in his letter to the Corinthians. “When I was a child, I spoke, thought, and reasoned in childlike ways as we all do. But when I became a man, I left my childish ways behind” (1 Corinthians 13:11 VOICE). Knowing Jesus and the love of God gives us a whole new viewpoint on both our earthly home and gives us hope for our future in heaven.

May we continue to look at our world through the eyes of God’s love and discover His wonder on every face, difficulty and relationship.

Put the childish behaviors and attitudes away and grow into the wonder of God’s loving perspective of your life and world, and you will find awe in the beauty of his amazing care.

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My Tarnished World of Wonder – @LindaShepherd on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

linda evans shepherd

About the author: Linda Shepherd Evans is the president of Right to the Heart Ministries and the CEO of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA), which ministers to Christian women authors and speakers. She’s the publisher of Leading Hearts Magazine and Arise Daily. Linda is an award-winning author who has written numerous books. Her prayer books have sold over a quarter-of-a-million copies. She is an internationally recognized speaker.

Linda’s latest release, When You Need to Move a Mountain: Keys to Praying with Power, is a practical and encouraging book that explains what intercessory prayer is, how to pray as an intercessor, and how to experience victory. You’ll quickly find the specific help you need to pray for the needs close to your heart. You’ll also learn how to develop your own intercessory prayer battle strategy and to celebrate each victory with thanksgiving.

Join the conversation: When have you been able to adjust your perspective?