By Daniel H. King
Lindsey had started coming up with her arms out-stretched when she was a tiny little thing. I would take her up in my arms and give her a big hug. It had become a ritual with us through the years. I would finish my sermon and walk down the aisle to the back of the auditorium, then after the prayer she would head directly for me. It was one of the singular honors of my life. Still is, even as I write these words. Now she was getting to be taller and looking very “grown up,” in a little girl sort of way.
Her little sister Rhea was now the tiny one, just about Lindsey’s age when she started to hug me, and she had dutifully gone along with Lindsey on this little ritual right from the start, though I’m sure she didn’t have an inkling of what it was all about.
On one particular Sunday, Lindsey made her way to me and hugged me as usual. Rhea was right behind. When Rhea hugged me, her mother came up behind and said to me: “She just asked me, `Can I go hug God?’ I explained to her that you weren’t God, but I’m not sure she under-stood.” We laughed together and I assured her that with time she would come to understand.
But that incident stuck with me. I suppose it always will. When I reflected upon it later it brought a tear to my eyes. Little children are the most beautiful creatures that God put on our planet. He made them so in order that we might love them deeply, cherish and protect them with our substance and even our lives if need be. All of us parents and grandparents have a host of stories that we have laid up in our hearts which center around the childhood of these little ones “whose angels do always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 18:10). We love to tell and retell those stories, even when the little ones are fully grown. It is as if we could wish that we could have them be little again so that we could grab them up and hug them and protect their tiny souls from the darkness and evil of the world. We would love to hide them from all the bad things and shelter their wonderful innocence from “the knowledge of good and evil.”
I suppose that there is not one thing that more completely illustrates for me the depth of human depravity than the proliferation in our land of abuse of children, whether sexually or physically. I cannot believe that God will permit a people long to endure if they do not at all costs protect the children from harm. It frightens me to hear news reports of large scale “kiddie” pornography rings and of pedophiles who are allowed back into the general population again to prey upon trusting little ones. Surely God has reserved the hottest hole in hell for such scum! Imagine a human being so perverted, selfish and sex-crazed as to destroy a child’s life for a moment of twisted pleasure! Let us pray that our judges and our government will come to their senses before it is too late for even a single child.
I don’t think I can ever remember a personal experience that so fully illustrated for me how adults appear in the eyes and minds of little children as this recollection of Lindsey and Rhea. Children tend to idolize us. We are not only giants to them in terms of our physical size and capabilities, but we are “God” to them in a sense. Their first taste of the world, be it sweet or bitter, is at our hands. In a sense they only know God through us in the beginning years of their little lives. They know God and the world as dark and hideous or loving and gentle in what they know of us and see in us. No wonder some children are a menace to society! Family life for them has proven hateful and mean, their parents uncaring and selfish, or else absent for whatever reason, leaving them to fend for themselves in a cold and cruel world. They do not know the love of God, for those who should have shown them his love have failed them. We should not be shocked that at times they are as vicious as animals; they may have never known any of the nobler attributes of the human spirit, only the baser instincts.
Of course, I am not God. No one knows more than I myself that I have fallen far short of his image and glory. But I pray to the God of heaven that for that one moment in little Rhea’s life when I stood in his place, she saw something of his love, something of his purity, something of his gentleness, something of himself. Would that all of us might see how inexpressibly significant is our role in the lives of children! Jesus told the disciples, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matt. 18:14; NASB). By our words and deeds we may help or hinder their later acceptance of Christ as Lord and Savior, and their development as fully matured Christian adults. Woe be unto us if we stand as a hindrance rather than a help: “But whoso shall offend one of these little one which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matt. 18:6)!
Guardian of Truth XXXVIII: 13, p. 19
July 7, 1994