Through the Eyes of a Child

There is something about having a little one in the house at Christmas that makes the season magical again. It has been so much fun this December to celebrate traditions, bake favorite goodies, and sing old carols, because our three year-old daughter Claire is now catching the excitement. She oohed and aahed over each ornament we hung on the tree, examining them carefully with her tiny fingers. She squealed with anticipation when I pulled from the oven the freshly-baked gingerbread men that she had helped with. She belted out "Al Mundo Paz" ("Joy to the World") as she marched an endless procession of dolls past the manger scene to "visit with Baby Jesus." She carefully selected a doll for a little girl in her Sunday school class whose mommy abandoned her when she was an infant; she wrapped it, labeled it with a "C" (from Claire), and proudly placed it beneath the small tree in her room. She is eagerly awaiting Christmas Eve so that we can take it to her. And I've got to admit, I'm probably just as eager for Christmas as she is. I can't wait to eat our traditional big breakfast, read Luke 2, and see her open the gifts we chose for her. Seeing Christmas through a child's eyes has brought back a magic that I'd forgotten existed.

It reminds me of one of the most beautiful blessings of missions, one I never anticipated before arriving on the field. It came to me unexpectedly as I taught a small children's class during our first year in Honduras. Seeing quite a few more children had arrived than usual, I had asked a teen girl to assist me; she sat in the back and helped me quiet the unruly ones. But I noticed that during the story about the three Hebrew children who refused to bow to a graven image, she was listening just as intently as the children were. I explained how the wicked king ordered the men to be thrown into the fiery furnace, and a low gasp spread across the room. They leaned forward in their seats, worry on their faces, as I told how even the men who threw the Hebrews into the furnace were consumed by the flames. "But Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were not burned!" They smiled and nodded, clearly relieved; but their smiles changed to puzzled looks when I told them, "But the king looked up at the men walking around in the fiery furnace, and realized that there were not three, but four men in the flames!" I paused dramatically, waiting for their anticipation to peak before I continued. But not everyone could stand it. The teenage girl shouted out from the back of the room, "Well, who WAS it?"

What an awesome privilege it is to tell someone a Bible story for the first time! Those stories that I had heard over and over since I was a child became new to me again, because I was telling them to people who had never heard them. I had received the unexpected blessing of a second dose child-like wonder for what God can do.

On the mission field, we definitely miss being around seasoned Christians who are mature in their faith; I sometimes ache for the church family and leadership we left in the States. I know that one day we will have people like that in our church here; they have already made leaps and bounds in their walks with the Lord.

But even as we see Christians here grow to maturity, I pray that the Lord will always allow me to have the privilege of working with new Christians as well. There is nothing like leading someone to the Lord and watching them learn in awe of what their Savior can do.


I grew up in Sunday school,
I memorized the Golden Rule
And how Jesus came to set the sinner free.
I know the story inside out
I can tell you all about
The path that led Him up to Calvary.
But ask me why He loves me
And I don't know what to say.
But I'll never be the same because
He changed my life when He became...

Everything to me.
He's more than a story,
More than words on a page of history.
He's the air that I breathe
The water I thirst for
And the ground beneath my feet.
He's everything, everything to me.

-Chad Cates
2 Responses
  1. Ricky Says:

    I know that feeling because I am a teacher. There is something in that student's eyes that say, "I've never heard this before" and their interest is not casual.

    I believe the Lord taught both groups in His earthly ministry. The hardened ones were the scribes and Pharisees; the excited ones were often the poorer people--the outcasts, the neglected one, worse--the forgotten ones. I remember something I read a couple of years ago, too. "You cannot be learning if you are talking." A lot of truth there, so as God's teachers let's remember this: Don't just teach the children; learn from the children.



  2. Kimberly Grainger Says:

    Precious truths, Chris! I love that song, too. It's become meaningful to us, as well.
    We have a couple in our church, newly saved in their 60s. What a joy it's been to see them celebrate their first "saved" anniversary, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. We needed that renewal of enthusiasm.
    Good reminders to us all.

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