Love them Little, Love them Big

Julie Lavender in Leading Hearts magazine

“People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’ And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them” (Mark 10:13-16).

And the last verse of the same scenario in Matthew says, “When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there” (Matthew 19:15).

A beloved and familiar event told in Matthew, Mark and Luke, the scene is described in just three, four and three verses, respectively. Seemingly brief encounters with each child must’ve had profound and lasting ramifications in their lives. In those little moments, Jesus exhibited the love of the Heavenly Father with intentionality and care.

Our four kids, now adults, often recount favorite childhood memories when they felt especially loved or blessed by their parents. More often than not, those moments are seemingly little ones — brief events that made lasting impressions.

Growing up as military dependents, our children retrieve their memories by states that include North Carolina, Florida, Virginia, California, Oregon, Washington and Georgia, the youngest child with fewer locations to select from.

Adventures that stand out in their minds include dancing in the den, picking blackberries and rolling down a hill.

Little moments of intentionality and care turned into lasting memories in the minds of our children. My husband and I didn’t realize at the time that we were teaching our children about God’s love, but inadvertently, our devotion and attention gave them a glimpse of their Heavenly Father’s love.

Parents have the opportunity to show God’s love to a child through their own words and actions. A parent’s love for a child is fierce and deep, one of the strongest bonds we’ll experience in our lifetime. And to say to a child, “Mommy and Daddy love you so much, but guess what? God loves you SO MUCH bigger than that!” points to God’s unfathomable, steadfast love.

Scripture teaches children (and adults) about God’s love, and parents serve their children best by instilling those verses in their hearts and minds.

Some passages that stand out are:

• “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” —1 John 3:1 • “We love because he first loved us.” —1 John 4:19

• “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” —1 John 4:7

• “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” —1 Chronicles 16:34

Use little moments — and big ones, too — to help children come to Jesus. It’s the most important parenting goal to accomplish. Take them in your arms, literally and figuratively, and be intentional to show the love of God every day through your words and actions.

Watch for Julie’s new book, 365 Ways to Love Your Child: Turning Little Moments into Lasting Memories (Revell/Baker Publishing Group), coming October 2020.

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