An ocean of woodchips soften the floor of the playground where giggles and screeches cascade throughout the development. I sit peacefully on a bench at the edge and observe the sun- washed faces all around. Warmth is transitioning the seasons, and the tender smell of new beginnings jolts the air. The children delight in the freedom of leaving sweaters and jackets behind and run haphazardly through the lot. One older child, stands out as she commands the other children on the grounds. Her tone is one of jesting and teasing while mixing sarcasm with peals of laughter. She is at a crossroads, standing at the threshold of teenager hood, as I like to call it. Somewhere in the tension between wanting to be a child, yet compelled of necessity to be an adult, she stands.
Her ashy blonde hair swings wildly about her face as she twirls the children around and around. They trust her, you can tell, but they don’t know why…I don’t think she does either. She obliges them again and again to a nearly dizzying effect. In some unspeakable way she looks as if the modern world commands her to let them loose…. to grow up and to turn her back on these things that she appears to find joy in but cannot confess that she finds joy in…. because of course that would be uncool. Hence the sarcasm.
I watch this scene and the heart of God in me is torn too. Society wears on these young ones, commanding them to grow up, to leave behind…to enter the world that announces stress and strain. To the reality of a world that would unabashedly demand compromise. This society of ours that teaches survivability lies within a person’s ability to outsmart, outshine, and outscore. To the world that calls good evil and evil good and that depends on heaping up temporal earthly things in order to find a measurement of happiness.
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.” ~1 John 2:15
This young girl, standing there at a monumental threshold…society tugging and pulling her to go over the line. Yet something in her pulling back to linger here in the carelessness of this last careless season of life.
From somewhere in the distance a faint call goes out like an alarm sounding, the voice of a Mom wanting children to come in for the night. The children gather their belongings and the pack leader of it all begins to pull hard on the red wagon to bring a delivery of children to their respective homes. As she gathers them in haste, I stand to gather my children too before the sun sinks behind the hill. I am compelled to speak to her. Then the heart and compassion of God fills me up to overflowing and I see this young lady with many obstacles ahead…not because of anything in particular, but because of what the world honors and cherishes and what will be naturally launched her way. I see myself as that child-nearly adult…not knowing much, but finding the excitement of freedom just up ahead and throwing caution to the wind whilst believing all of the worldly lies of what is said to be important.
“Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.” ~1 Cor. 3:18
I ask her name. She answers quite respectfully. I tell her that she does an excellent job caring for these children and that I can tell they trust her, and that in so doing she has to be careful of what she says over them, for they are tender and want to follow suit. I stare straight at her and she does not break my glance as I tell her that God has a great plan for her life. Perhaps she will have a role teaching or caring for children someday, and God is the one with that marvelous plan. And there I see it, the hardness and sarcasm that poured from her before fall away. There is a hope and a calm that shifts her perspective.
God loves me? God sees me? I could see the heart wheels turning.
And here I am again, I feel the heartbeat of JESUS for the children. His awesome love and faithful care touch everything, because He created it all. This child, like every child is precious to HIM, is beautiful in His sight. Why would we want to be careless with our words to these most beloved ones? I see the power of speaking kind things over the generations that are largely left to sort through the muck and mire of this worn out culture which frequently leaves the “least of these” behind.
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.” Matthew 18:10
Here I melt. I melt because in the midst of it all, there is Jesus. He is the one who stood before time and called us all by name and knows every small aspect of each of us and His call goes forth to everyone. From smallest to greatest…He is calling these children. These young ones need people to encourage them, to fight for them, to pray over them and to believe for them. They need to know that they can resist this culture and they can break forth from its lies and become who God created them to be.
The young girl walks past the gate and the wheels of that wagon turn and turn halfway down the way as I take a final spin with my two sweeties, round and around. From somewhere down the path that parts the houses, the girl pulling the wagon turns back. Her face is fresh aglow with encouragement the wheels cease and she raises a hand to wave, saying: “Well, good-bye, and umm, have a nice week!”
She smiles a warm smile and goes back to her task and somewhere I know God’s love has touched her heart. God’s goodness and His care for her is real, and she knows it. In that moment I know it too that as we speak life- giving words over others, we will see new things springing up all around.
“Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1