Tonight was my first experience of an Ash Wednesday service with my children.
Not only were we visiting a United Methodist church, which is far more formal than the Southern Baptist Church we’re members of and with which my children are familiar, but we were late… As usual.
Fortunately, the church had a really wonderful interactive and kid friendly service. There were various stations throughout the sanctuary and surrounding areas which served the purpose of guiding participants through Lenten devotionals and were aimed at teaching the small ones about the season of Lent and the period of time leading up to Easter.
As a recovering perfectionist, it’s really stressful for me to foray into the wild world of toddlerdom, seeking to sidestep tantrums before they strike. Overall, the kids were good.
But my two-year-old little girl… She’s just a loud little person. And boisterous. And absolutely tactless, albeit friendly.
As she shouted “Jesus Loves Me,” shattering the intended silence during the imposition of the ashes, I was frustrated, a little embarrassed, but also I couldn’t help giggling. Her uncommonly deep voice and bravado left me smirking and shaking my head as I remembered the passage from Matthew:
When the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonders that He did and the children shouting in the temple complex, “ Hosanna to the Son of David! ” they were indignant and said to Him, “Do You hear what these children are saying? ” “Yes,” Jesus told them. “Have you never read: You have prepared praise from the mouths of children and nursing infants? ”
Matthew 21:15-16 HCSB
And again in Luke,
Now He came near the path down the Mount of Olives, and the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles they had seen: The King who comes in the name of the Lord is the blessed One. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest heaven! Some of the Pharisees from the crowd told Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if they were to keep silent, the stones would cry out! ”
Luke 19:37-40 HCSB
And the organ played thunderously, and the choir sang penitently, and I noticed my 1 year old, praising God! He has praise hands, y’all!
And I started to get it.
I’m here to facilitate their worship. I’m here to teach them about Christ and do all I can to equip them to hear God speak. I’m here to point them to Messiah, and not to quench the Spirit.
The drive home was admittedly frustrating. For the last three weeks or so, I have felt spiritually under attack. The more my husband and I commit to lean into God, and to actually DO His Word, not merely TALK ABOUT obedience, the more things and circumstances get in the way. I find myself frustrated, agitated, depressed, with tissue paper thin patience, and losing interest in the things of God.
That, my friends, is a sure sign the enemy is at work seeking to frustrate the plans of God.
Therefore, submit to God. But resist the Devil, and he will flee from you.
James 4:7 HCSB
And guess what?
You are from God, little children, and you have conquered them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
1 John 4:4 HCSB
I don’t think it’s accidental verse four addresses us as little children. So many times I act like a toddler; throwing spiritual tantrums before God, indignantly wondering why I’m not getting my way.
And God says,
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways.” This is the Lord ’s declaration.
Isaiah 55:8 HCSB
And so I’m pondering that this Lenten season; that I quit expecting more of my children than I expect of myself, and start holding myself to the standard Christ set before me. To love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love my neighbors as myself.
And it’s with a quiet and penitent heart I write this, as I dive into God’s Word, and this 2019 season of Lent.