Laura Miller | Category: Children's Sunday School
I used to think it was a condition of being a mom that I would always be aware of sounds in the night that might indicate my children need me. Waking to the crying newborn, the teething baby, the restless toddler, the nightmare-stricken child, it was always me making my way through the dark house, following the calls and cries of my babies.
As my children have become teens, I have instead experienced that disconcerting feeling that something has happened during the night that I should have been aware of, but wasn’t. Whether it is the sound of the car in the driveway that I have missed because I fell asleep too soon, or the shadowy figure at my bedside trying to explain why she’s worried about her test the next day, usually I have an uneasy sense that in my sleep-induced fog, something important slipped by me.
I realize everyone is different, but there is one thing that is the same for all who are among the children of God. When God calls one of his children, the child answers. Take the account of Samuel, who was serving the priest, Eli, in the temple (This was our Bible lesson this week in our children’s catechism class, from 1 Samuel 3.). Asleep, Samuel heard a voice calling his name and responded by running to Eli to be of service to him, thinking he was the one who had called. But Eli had not. After Samuel presented himself at bedside a second – and then a third -- time, Eli told Samuel what to do the next time he heard the call: “Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.'"
God's word tells us that Samuel “did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.” Samuel’s ears -- not the ones made of flesh, but ears to hear, given by the Lord himself -- were perceiving a spiritual Voice issuing a spiritual call. This is what Paul means when he writes in his first letter to the Corinthians:
Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:12-14)
When God calls one of his children, the child answers, but not every child answers at the first call. We in children’s ministry must be sensitive to the reality that the Lord’s timing is not usually the same as our own. Sally Michael, who develops curriculum for Children Desiring God ministries, says this:
Remember that conversion does not always happen instantaneously but often involves a journey of questioning, evaluating, struggling, and learning to trust. Conversion is a process. The struggle is good—the ugliness of the human heart needs to be experienced and grieved over.
Let’s do all we can to guide our children – whether in our homes, our classrooms, or our pews -- to places and opportunities where they will hear the word preached and sung and taught and lived. Their ears may be developing a sensitivity to that which is spiritual, and we don’t want them to miss the call coming to them in the night.
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