Big Lessons from Little People: Finding Jesus in the Toddler Room

All names are pseudonyms.

 “Praise Him! Praise Him! All you little children; God is love; God is love.”   Eight toddlers vigorously shake their jingle bells, shouting things unintelligible, while Dawn and I sing an off-key rendition of this classic Sunday school song.

Shall we do it again?” Dawn asks.

Two year old Trevor is trying to hoard some wayward jingle bells while Suzy is about to put them in her mouth; Jason sees something under the table that needs to be fetched immediately; and Megan stares at us blankly.

But Joey blares his favorite word, “Faster!” This startles all of us sitting at the table and we return to the business of praising God, this time with a speedier tempo.

Singing, snacking, storytelling – it’s all part of the Toddler Sunday School experience at South Park Church – a place where I have gleamed  life-changing messages about Jesus and the Christian life.

 

Jesus loves me; this I know, for the Bible tells me so.

During my tenure in the toddler room, curriculums have come and gone. But the Gospel message has remained the same — simple enough for a one-year old to internalize and profound enough to bring an adult to tears.

When life’s inevitable stressors threaten to overtake me,  this song, Jesus Loves Me tells me, no matter the circumstances,  Jesus loves me…and nothing can separate me from this love!

 

The joy of the Lord is my strength!

 “Jesus is alive today; clap your hands; shout, HOORAY!” The toddlers wave plastic clappers in the air as we sing this joyful message to the tune of London Bridge.

C. S. Lewis said that joy is the “serious business of heaven”. Perhaps our pink, plastic clappers are a foretaste of heaven-like joy.

When I feel my stomach wrench before a presentation, may I recall this toddler chant – Jesus is indeed alive and He is my joy.  All is well with my soul. 

 

I am a sinner, saved by grace.

 Two-year old Megan sits in the corner, rocking a baby doll. She’s on high alert however, surveying the room. Suddenly, she points to Tommy as he reaches for a toy . “MINE!” she yells. She returns to her doll, but soon feels compelled to announce again, “MINE!”, this time to Johnny about to ride a toy car.

I am Megan – a two-year old with a myopic view of the world — who says MINE in her heart.  A sinner who needs a savior.

 

Don’t take yourself so seriously!

According to the early church, the chief aim of man is to enjoy God. Part of the toddler curriculum entails giving the children little pictures of Jesus laughing. We hug the picture (literally) while singing, Jesus loves the little children; all the children of the world.

Inevitably, one toddler tries to eat the picture of Jesus; while others attempt to dig flat-Jesus out of the picture.

On days when my personal To-Do List becomes a Self-Importance List, may I recall these well-loved pictures of Jesus laughing.

“A cheerful heart is good medicine” (Proverbs 17:22).

The B-I-B-L-E — Yes, that’s the book for me!

The toddlers may be little, but you better believe they “read” their Bibles! Before we sing the  B-I-B-L-E song and thump little books on the table, Dawn and I “read” out of each child’s Bible.  “Jesus loves Kristin.” Or “Jesus is Sally’s special friend.” Okay, the word of God  doesn’t exactly say that, but we believe taking such license conveys the Good News in a manner suitable for a two-year old. And when little Timmy spontaneously hugs his Bible – well, that’s a holy moment.

May I revere my own Bible in the same manner!

 

Jesus calms our storms.

 One of our favorite Bible stories is about Jesus calming the storm.  Our toddlers sit riveted, munching goldfish, and yell “Stop!” to the waves.

May I remember this story in the face of life’s inevitable waves. An unkind word. A job in jeopardy.  A death.

Jesus calmed the churning sea with a word. And He is fully able to calm my heart – no matter how my boat lurches.

 

Go to Jesus

Separation anxiety is a hallmark of toddlerhood. Dawn and I have soothed many a child while rocking back and forth.

When I am anxious. may I too seek a loving lap — that of Jesus himself. He longs to comfort His children, young and old.

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Teaching a group of  antsy toddlers can indeed be challenging. But the rewards are out of this world!.

May we all have toddler-faith and toddler-joy!

We just won’t bite into that picture of laughing Jesus, tempting though it may be…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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