Let Them Come
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Let Them Come

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By Olivia Murphy

There she is again at my feet, pillowy arms lifted, begging to be held. It’s our standard 5:30 dance. I try to walk around her, explaining that dinner has to be made and Mama just needs a few more minutes, but her 15-month old mind doesn’t understand. She reaches up, again and again, until finally, I hoist her onto my hip for a closer look at the vegetables as they start to simmer. She gazes down and beats my chest in excitement as they sizzle and pop in the pan. It’s a moment of simple joy and fascination.

When children discover something new, like hearing a foreign sound or realizing for the first time that the birds in the pages of their book actually live and sing in the trees outside their window, we are invited into their world of awe and wonder. Often, though, these moments are sandwiched between diaper changes and feedings and ordinary trips to the grocery store, and slowing down to notice and enjoy them is usually ignored for the sake of efficiency and time management. After all, there is a lot to do in a day and children don’t expedite productivity.

In Mark 10:13 it says that one day, people “were bringing children to [Jesus], that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them.” Historically, children in the first century were seen as weak members of society and seemingly insignificant; very different from their place at the center of many homes today. To take the time to sit and be with these children, and even infants (Luke 18 :15), was counter-cultural— much like Jesus’ entire ministry. So when the disciples rebuked the people for bringing their children to him, it was likely a common reaction, but also one that I can relate to. Perhaps the disciples thought that there were better things to do than this. Perhaps the disciples had a list of important ministry opportunities they had to get to that day. Perhaps there was a leper who needed Jesus’ healing touch, and here he was, sitting down with children and taking them into his arms. They were probably even further shocked when Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:14).

These children whom Jesus stooped down to minister to belonged to the kingdom of God, too. They were his image bearers. He could not easily pass them by, just as he could not easily pass by the man with leprosy or the woman with the issue of blood. Jesus saw these children as equal and important—not a distraction or a nuisance to his ministry. They were a part of it. And even though scales weren’t falling off of their eyes and none of them were being physically healed of a disease, important work was still being done by simply letting them come.

Our flesh wages war against this. It desires immediate fruit in exchange for our labor, like a blind man seeing or a cripple man getting up from his mat to walk. Our flesh does not desire the seeds that develop over a lifetime and often remain in the ground before they are finally seen. It seeks to dismiss and abandon that which might weaken or slow us down in our quest to accomplish it all—and for mothers, Satan can tempt us to dismiss our closest, tiniest neighbors:our children. Instead of saying, “Let them come”, we might hear, “You will only slow me down” ringing in our ears. 

To combat this tendency we must look to the person of Jesus Christ. Phillipians 2 is a clear description of what Christ was about when he was on this earth. Verse 6 and 7 tells us, “though he was in the form of God, he did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant.” Christ served his neighbor, even the infant brought to his arms.

He also “humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (verse 8). Even though he was God, he humbly obeyed his father and suffered in order to disciple and save us. Discipleship did not come without a high cost.

So we do not have to be surprised when discipling our children is hard at times. It will likely be inconvenient and slow. It will cost us our schedule some days, and we might not see the fruit of our labor for years. The important thing is that we are faithful in doing it and looking to Christ, “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil 2:13)—not for our pleasure, not for what we have planned in a day, but that we would gladly submit our days to him, that he might use them for much more than a clean kitchen and ease. May God open our eyes to see that our children are a heritage from the Lord (Psalm 127:3) and indeed a rich blessing when we see them as more than an unruly means to our ideal end. May we know, like Jesus did, that children are disciples worthy of our time and patience and love. May we bid them come.