Let the little children come to me

Time for some therapeutic writing, I think.

Does anyone else ever struggle with having plenty to write about, but when you pull up your blog webpage–poof. It’s gone. Forever. Until, that is, you’re in your car driving to the store to buy some milk. That’s when my brain likes to kick in. Right now all I’m left with is the dregs of the past few months, the stuff that didn’t quite make it through the strainer.

I was reading 1st Samuel tonight. I like to take advantage of a silent, empty house when I can. Empty houses are great for reading, especially the Bible. I decided to start with a book that I didn’t read all the time, like I do Romans (I LOVE Romans), and was surprised (the Bible will never cease to do that to me) by its idiosyncrasies. This guy, Elkanah, had two wives, Hannah and Peninah. Peninah was the one who had borne children, yet Hannah was beloved by her husband. Not an unusual story for the Old Testament. Peninah, as is the case with most fertile, undervalued 2nd wives, taunts Hannah, and goads her with the fact that her barren womb is the one slight that Hannah can never overcome, regardless of their husband’s adoration and attention. To Pininah he gave enough; to Hannah he gave a worthy portion. But a child was indeed something Pininah could crow about.

So  Hannah, weeping sorely, goes to the house of God on her own and pleads for a child. She vowed, earnestly, that if God would bless her womb that the child would belong to the Lord all his days.

Meanwhile, Eli, the priest, accuses her of being drunk, because so great was her grief that no sound followed her words, and she could only mime what she spoke in her heart. After she explained everything to Eli, he revealed to her that she would indeed bear a son.

But there was something about this whole story that bothered my from the very beginning…Why wasn’t I told this story as a child. Why, in fact, are all tales similar to this one kept from young ears? I would have soaked up every word when I was young, and my vernal heart would have something substantial to ruminate over.

I think what adults don’t understand, what they somehow forgot along the way, is that kids don’t think things are more complicated than they really are. They’re far more accepting of situations than grown-ups. That’s why you always see the slave children in photos from far of places, hair dingy and ratty, face caked with dust, with a sparkling grin for the camera. They don’t know what they deserve, because things are the way they are. Children are rarely bitter. And those that are, and are aware of their rights, are fearsome creatures to behold.

So while the grown-up is going through the Bible, selecting and editing stories with a censorious eye, the human being who is yet too young to form egotistical opinions and doubts and criticisms, a being who is fresh enough to absorb without bias and just listen and ponder, is being kept from developing a more well rounded comprehension of God.

It reminds me of when I was young, and I assertively informed a black woman that her skin looked like dirt, and my skin looked like sand. She nodded understandingly, and told me yes, it does. My mother was, of course, appalled, and I had no grasp on racism, equality of every man, and being discreet, so I had no idea why she was upset. Her skin WAS brown, and mine WAS tan. Grown-ups had never explained to me the importance of that yet, so I didn’t know it was such a deep rooted issue. It was like telling me that it was bad to draw attention to the distinction between green and blue eyes (grown-ups seemed so overly fussy with all that when I was young). It wasn’t until I was scolded that I realized something might be wrong. My mother, bless her heart (I was a spirited child) could have said something like, “Yes, that’s true. Aren’t they both beautiful?” and I would have nodded my head, pleased at my observation.

Children can be, and often times are, the greatest observers. Without the troublesome build-up of biases, culture and expectations filming their eyes, I wonder why we are afraid to show them Scripture. In doing so, we underestimate both the child, and the Word. A child would not think twice of running to Jesus with a big smile, and slipping their grubby fingers  into his hand. An adult would believe that we do not deserve that right. They would believe it improper for the God of the universe, of space and time, to bend over to tend to their needs. A child would only tug at his hand and show Him their treasures, knowing that, because He loves them, He also loves the things they love, too.

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