In past blogs I’ve communicated that about ten years ago I took time away from ministry for a year or so for a sabbatical. During this time I did some substitute teaching and had the opportunity to sub several times for a certain kindergarten class.
The last time I substituted for this class a five year old girl named Asia asked me a question as she came into school that day. Knowing it was going to be my last day with the class she asked, “Mr. C, my daddy is picking me up after school. Please don’t leave until he gets here, I want him to meet you.”
All day long Asia kept reminding me. When I sat at her reading station, when she went to lunch, when we had recess and at story time; all day long she continued to remind me, “I really want my daddy to meet you, Mr. C, so please could you stay after school until he gets here?”
I wasn’t sure why Asia wanted me to connect with her father, but I perceived it was important to her, so I assured her I wouldn’t leave before I met her dad.
When the end of the day arrived, I stood with Asia outside our classroom door as the other kid’s parents came to retrieve their children. And as each parent came Asia kept saying, “Mr. C, I know he is coming. He should be here any minute.”
Finally I had to bring Asia to the office—as was the custom at this particular school when parents were late picking up their kids at the end of the school day. I could see the disappointment on Asia’s face, but I told her I would stay in the classroom so that when her father arrived she could bring him there to meet me. I told the secretaries in the office about it so they could help the situation along, and went back to the classroom to finish up the details of closing the room and readying it for the next day.
After about ten minutes it dawned on me Asia and her dad hadn’t come yet, so I went back to the office and found that Asia was gone. The secretaries said that her father had come, but when she told him about meeting me he remarked that he didn’t have time, so they left. Asia begged her dad but when he refused, she hung her head in disappointment as they walked out the door.
I didn’t need to meet Asia’s father and he didn’t need to meet me. But Asia needed for us to meet. What would it have taken—a minute, two? All the way back to the classroom, all the way home after school that day, and to this very day my heart breaks for Asia.
How often do we disapprove of our children’s wishes and in so doing we disapprove of them?
I have often tried to imagine what Asia’s intention might have been that day in wanting her father to meet me. Perhaps it was as simple as…she respected her father and wanted him to meet another man she respected. Or maybe she thought we would like each other. Or maybe it was more desperate. Perhaps she wanted him to meet me because he was hurting her in some way and wanted him to be accountable to another man she perceived to be integral. Maybe he was rough and mean and wanted her father to meet a man she perceived to be gentle and kind.
Regardless of why, it is apparent that she wanted it to happen very badly. Jesus said that a child’s heart represents the kind of heart that He wants his followers to have (Mark 10:13-16). Parents, are you able to discern the important desires of your children? Their hearts are so pure they may want something that isn’t just important for them—it may be important for us as well.
But even more, I believe the scripture above suggests that our alertness to our children’s sensitivities could be an indication of our sensitivity to God’s desires for us. He wants our heart to be like theirs.
And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them. – Mark 10:13-16
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