One Sunday, the children of our congregation opened the worship service with a few songs. As they gathered on stage, a few of the boys were in their glory – poking and bumping each other, giggling, picking noses, pointing out to the congregation. One little boy, in particular, had this mischievous twinkle in his eye. I leaned over to my husband, pointing him out, and whispered, “now there goes some trouble.”
The singing commenced and for the most part the children sang their praises with gusto with some fidgeting. And as expected, the mischievous imp did a little prodding and poking of his fellow choir members, trying to get them to laugh or join him in his mischievousness. At the end of the singing, as the children were leaving, the pastor reminded the congregation that the children were leading us – leading us in worship and praise, and more importantly, leading us to the throne of God.
This thought could have been just a simple reminder that the pastor says to provide support and encouragement to the children’s ministry team each year. Knowing my pastor, I think he believes this to be true and was graciously reminding us of this biblical truth – “…and a little child shall lead them” (Isaiah 11:6, NIV). As a congregational member, I could have easily accepted this illustration as a sweet reminder, smiling at how adorable the children are, and moved on. Except for that mischievous twinkle…
For whatever reason, I have always been drawn to those kids in my ministry who were a little mischievous. This probably stems from self-identification. According to family stories, I, too, was a little bit of an imp growing up. And on that Sunday morning, I could not get that image out of my mind. Here were these children who were leaning, bumping, giggling, and poking each other. And they were, according to the pastor, leading us to the throne of the Almighty God.
The sermon for that Sunday was not for the faint of heart. Our pastor preached the gospel in such a way that both truth and grace were bestowed. Personally, the Holy Spirit moved in such a way that I got a view of my own brokenness, its impact on me, and on others. And it wasn’t a pretty view. Thankful for the significant words of grace, I was reminded once again of that mischievous little imp from the children’s choir.
And a little child shall lead them.
If I was planning a processional into a throne room, I think I would recruit those who can lead strongly and march in formation. I would want responsible people whose voices were commanding and strong. Beauty would be important with people dressed in robes that glitter with gold thread. Only the best and brightest among us would do. But instead, that morning I was led into the throne room by a mischievous little imp who really could care less about singing and was more focused on getting his other friends in trouble.
How grateful I am for that experience. This was a reminder of what God values. In contrast to my need for strength, I was reminded that we can approach the throne in our brokenness. Instead of the importance of marching in formation, I was reminded that we can still come to the throne when we can’t stay within the lines and have broken all the rules. Instead of commanding voices, I am able to approach God Almighty in tears or anger or in a state that has no words. And most importantly, instead of coming all dressed up in what I think is a beautiful robe, my tattered clothing is covered by Jesus and his righteousness.
And what meets me there is love – a love so profound and real. The unexplainable love I have for the little mischievous children in my life is nothing compared to the deep love God has for me. He sees me poking and bumping into others, not focusing but instead looking around and ignoring the task before me. He sees me approaching the throne probably with no shoes because I have kicked them off somewhere along the way and with blue jeans that probably have grass stains. Yet, his loves pours out, calling and enticing me to run into his arms as a child would their loving earthly Father.
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1a, NIV)