“The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.” (Is. 11:6)
Let me call him Fred. He didn’t like the changes I was making at church. He made an appointment to express his unhappiness. I thought we had a helpful meeting, but he subsequently became even more upset. He began to get ugly about his feelings, and even offered to pack my bags.
I wish I’d “turned my cheek” with what Fred was saying, but I didn’t. I wish I didn’t take his comments so personally, but I did.
Fred had a granddaughter who he adored and who adored him. Let me call her Catherine. They were together every Sunday. With nearly everyone else Fred could be harsh and difficult, but never with her.
Fred’s granddaughter liked me. Much to his discomfort, she made sure to give me a special greeting every Sunday. I enjoyed my friendship with Catherine, and I got secret pleasure—I’m not proud of this—that our friendship caused her grandpa heartburn.
One Sunday as Catherine was speaking to me, she paused and looked up to her grandfather, and then she locked in on me. She put her hands on her hips and said, “It’s time for you two to be friends.”
Fred looked embarrassed. I was ashamed. We looked at each other. We knew she was right. Rather chagrined, we shook hands. Catherine hugged us both.
After that moment, Fred and I did become friends. Truly. All the past enmity was over. Amazing. Neither of us wanted to disappoint that little girl, and neither of us wanted to also disappoint God, by returning to our foolish ways.
Today’s scripture ends this way: “…and a little child shall lead them.” Catherine led Fred and I to be reconciled. We needed her help. She loved him. She cared for me. It was obvious to her—and to God—we should be friends.
I encourage us to take the spiritual life and leadership of children seriously. They aren’t—as is often said—the future of the church. They’re right now full members of the Kingdom of God, and sometimes adults—like Fred and I—need them to lead us.
- Have you ever had a child reveal something to you about God’s ways, or compel you to change any of your own?
- Did you notice that Catherine was acting like the leader and that Fred and I were acting childish? How and when have you ever acted childish? Are you doing so now? If so, are you going to continue?
- Have you ever had your enmity with someone just vanish? If so, what were the circumstances that caused that to happen? If not, is there a difficult relationship that you would like to put into Jesus’ hands?