In Matthew 19:14, 15, our Savior says: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
Have you ever reflected on the value of a blessing? What does it mean to bless? The dictionary defines it as thus: “To invoke in favor of a person.”
In the Old and New Testaments we find stories of special blessings of parents to children, grandparents to grandsons, etc. The act of blessing had a significant place in the social and spiritual surroundings of many lives.
Now Christ has in front of Him many mothers, tired and overwhelmed, many of them trying to determine what it means to raise a child, wishing fervently that their children would receive a special blessing from the lips of the Savior. Sister White comments, “He took the children in His arms, He laid His hands upon them, and gave them the blessing for which they came” (Desire of Ages, p. 511). “The mothers were comforted. They returned to their homes strengthened and blessed by the words of Christ. They were encouraged to take up their burdens with new cheerfulness, and to work hopefully for their children. The mothers of today are to receive His words with the same faith. Christ is as verily a personal Saviour today as when He lived a man among men. He is as verily the helper of mothers today as when He gathered the little ones to His arms in Judea” (Ibid., 512.1, emphasis supplied).
Jesus saw those faces radiant with peace and relief, all of their confidence deposited on Him, and He knew that He could not deceive them.
Today, many centuries after that scene, Christ continues blessing all those who approach Him with sincere hearts. He wishes to calm the anxiety and to clear the preoccupations of our lives.
As mothers, we are the first teachers of our children; we are called to shape ourselves in the image of God in the lives of our little ones. Is this an easy task? No, but it is not impossible. It takes time, effort, perseverance, and above all, intelligence; all the talents promised by God will be received by those who ask in faith. He does not deceive anybody. It has been many centuries since Jesus walked on this earth, but His steps are present. “Just by His word will be enough.”
Teachers are also called by God to collaborate in the delicate task of drawing in the mind of the child and placing in it the image of our Creator. This is an arduous and sometimes difficult task, but how wonderful to see the fruits of our efforts in our children!
I want to share with you the experience of Jerilyn Cogan, a mother from a North American family, who, like many of us, looked for a Church within ours where she could give her children a more genuine spiritual experience. It was never her plan to begin an evangelistic campaign; she merely wanted to reach others for Christ.
One Sabbath, Jerilyn’s son was very excited about what his teacher had done in Sabbath School that day; it had been a long ago since he had had that much fun. The teacher had made the class very creative and dynamic.
After attending Cradle Roll for several weeks with her daughter, Jerilyn wondered what she could do to make the Cradle Roll class as much fun as her son’s class. “We only had two children in my daughter’s class,” she comments, “so I began by speaking with the teacher, with the Sabbath School Director, and we devised a plan. We made a list of all the members of the church who had children of this age, and we also included nephews, nieces, cousins, grandsons and granddaughters. I personally called each church member and invited him or her to accompany the child to Sabbath School. It was a fabulous venture of discovery through music, movement, and imagination. In some cases, it was necessary to offer a personal guarantee and the support of an interactive class; many of these adults were no longer attending church. I gave them an invitation so that they would return and see how wonderful change can be.
“The first week I took six children on an enjoyable tour of Noah’s Ark. The following week, eight children showed up to be part of this biblical adventure. A hall classroom that had been adapted for two children now was too narrow. I realized that something so emotional had to be shared with other churches and with the community.
“I contacted the local newspaper and placed an announcement about our Cradle Roll class. After this, I received many calls and registered new children for the next week’s program. Parents were thrilled to see that their children could participate in a very interactive program and without any cost. Eventually we registered 25 more children in our Sabbath School class.”
Is this not an easy and creative way to evangelize? The benefits that the church and the community receive are immense.
I recall the phrase from the title of this article: “When you lead a child by the hand, you are leading the parents by their hearts.”
A vast field is ready for the harvest; we only need ideas, goodwill, and the willingness to work together. There does not exist work that we fulfill by ourselves; God needs our cooperation in salvation of souls.
We must not neglect the important work that God has placed in our hands. Let us set egos aside and recognize that many people have gifts that are valuable in God’s eyes. Together we can all fulfill an important work for Him. Let us look for the best elements of the church and use them for service.
“People will forget what you say, forget what you do, but they never forget how you made them feel.”