With 20+ years of working with young children, I have an abundance of stories. Some make me laugh, some make me think, and others make me cry. But most importantly, they make me understand why Jesus calls us to imitate children in our faith. I hope you enjoy reading some of these stories.
Upon returning from our school book fair, a child excitedly told me that he bought a Bible. When I asked him which one, he thought about it long and hard. After a while, he thoughtfully said, "Hmmm, the Holy one."
The first time we served grape juice at snack, a child immediately pushed it away and said she would not drink it. When the teacher asked her why, she staunchly replied, "Oh no, I am not allowed to drink wine."
In the middle of a class prayer, a 4-year-old was overcome with a bout of flatulence. He perked up and sheepishly said, "Oops! Sorry Ms. Kano, I tooted."
Aren't kids the funniest? I'm sure you have moments at home when you think your kid is the absolute cutest! They say something a little too honest in public, they sing and dance to their favorite jam, or they simply look at you with the most precious expression. But there are other times when a child's sinful impulses make us face the ramifications of our fallen nature.
Multiple kindergarteners came to me with complaints of missing the money they had brought from home to use at TCS's "school store." At the time, student government had a miniature snack stand at recess where students could purchase small goodies. One of my students had been stealing their money from their backpacks during naptime, as his designated nap spot was right next to the cubbies.
This is why we need Jesus. We were all born sinners, but we were not left without salvation. God provided Jesus as the ultimate scapegoat for our sins, offering us grace and righteousness instead. And when children quickly and wholeheartedly feel remorse, repent and yearn to please again, it is a powerful reminder that we are part of God's redemptive story. We are no longer slaves to sin and guilt, but called to freedom in Christ. And often times, little ones are the best at eagerly and gratefully running back into the forgiver's arms.
The "thief" from the story above learned his lesson that day. As I confronted him about stealing his friends' money, he began to bawl. His parents were brought in, the Principal was involved, and he returned the money and apologized to each of his classmates. He didn't even attempt to make any excuses; he was simply overcome with the weight of his actions that hurt his friends and disappointed his teacher and his parents. But the story doesn't end there. As the altercation happened earlier in the year, it was such a blessing to see his heart grow as he wrestled with choosing goodness over sin.
Though I am no longer a classroom teacher, I still have many heart-to-hearts with children. Preschoolers are sometimes sent to my office to discuss their behavior after their teacher's numerous attempts at correction have not been successful. While I am not always able to solve the problem, one unique entity is always evident. In almost every case, young children are remorseful and eager to please again. When we turn our hearts back to God, we can trust that our repentance will always be met with the unfailing and abounding love and forgiveness of the Father. Throughout the book of Judges, we see Israel fall astray and worship false idols. But when they cried out to God for help, God answered their pleas by raising up a judge to deliver them time and time again. Our unfaithfulness is always outweighed by God's faithfulness, and we can learn from children how to accept His lavish grace and live in the joy and freedom salvation brings.