Suffer the little children

My family and I enjoyed our first family retreat with many other families from our church last weekend at the Christian campground where our son has spent a week the past two summers. In fact, he and I stayed in the same cabin he stayed in then.

It rained almost the entire twenty-four hours we were there. We had a great time anyway. The kids swam in the swimming hole until exhausted. I hiked two trails, drinking in my time alone with the Creator like the cool, falling rain. We shared a devotional time around the campfire in the evening, capped by the blessing of freshly-made smores.

And for the first part of worship Sunday morning, the children led. I didn’t know some of their songs — including “Hip, Hip, Hip, Hippopotamus”! — but I surely was uplifted.

One of them was led by an adorable, precocious 4- or 5-year-old girl. I could tell that one of our children’s ministry deacon, ostensibly leading or at least wrangling these younger worship leaders, had a moment of hesitation and even responded to some parent’s half-joking unheard comment with “Well, she’s not teaching or having authority over the rest of us, is she?”

It couldn’t spoil the moment for me. There, on the bleachers under a big wooden shed-of-a-gymnasium that was open to the mist-shrouded green surround, a child was praising God for all of it and her parents and friends joined her.

I couldn’t help but think of a time when His Son scolded His best friends: “Let the children come to Me; don’t forbid them! Why, anyone who wants to be part of my kingdom needs to become just like one of them!”

So we were. We sang “Jesus Loves Me.” We sang “This Little Light of Mine.” We sang a half-dozen others.

And the little children led us.

No punitive lightning fell from heaven.

In fact, a few moments later, shafts of sunlight pierced the canopy of leaves above and chased the greyness and the mist from the campground.

Tell me God wasn’t smiling.

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