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Let them be little

A country song reminds us about the active, strong faith of children.

Years ago, there was a country song called “Let Them Be Little” by Billy Dean and Richie McDonald. It was a tender song all about the sweetness and briefness of childhood with a refrain that chimed, “Let ’em cry, let ’em giggle, let them sleep in the middle.”*

Somehow this song became ingrained in me when my girls were small, especially the “let them sleep in the middle” part. This was especially true with our youngest, Sophia. She was a frequent visitor to our room at night.

A sound, a scary dream, just about anything sent her little feet racing through the hall and across the family room of our Minnesota parson-age straight through the door of our bedroom. She usually tried—and failed—to catapult herself up into our bed, but then she’d walk around to my or Mike’s side, and we’d help her climb right in. There were nights when this got old, but I tried to remind myself, They’re only that way for a little while, so let her be little, Amanda, let her sleep in the middle.

Jesus has a tender love for children too. We see that when he welcomed the youngest of children into his open arms. He announced, “Let the little children come to me” (Matthew 19:14). Jesus preached how a childlike faith, by the work of his Spirit, is active, strong, and true, and serves as a model for adults. We may look on this part of Scripture with fondness or view it as a sweet Bible lesson for children, but it is deeper than that. It is the salvation story. Jesus came for children. He died for children. He rose for children. He came, died, and rose for us all!

Another verse of that song goes on to say, “I live for those kisses, prayers and your wishes. Now that you’re teaching me things only a child can see.” In my years of teaching the littles, I have had the joy and privilege of seeing that childlike faith demonstrated to the fullest. No one speaks with more conviction. No one professes God’s love with less doubt or shame. No one lets praises ring to the rafters like small children. And they want to know about Jesus. They want to chat about their Lord and Savior. They burst with joy proclaiming the fact that he loves us all, died to pay the price for our sins, and rose so that we too will rise to be in heaven someday.

Teaching little ones about Jesus truly is my favorite part of the day. It may not always go perfectly; there may be wiggles and giggles, but they are just little. They are his precious little lambs, washed in his blood and the waters of Holy Baptism and given the robe of righteousness earned by his life and sacrifice for them.

And so, let us . . . let them . . . be little. Let us share the love of Jesus with our children daily. Let us include them in worship, Word, blessing, and praise. Let us never underestimate what they can handle and understand. Let us not hinder the work of the Spirit in our children’s hearts and minds. “Give them hope, give them praise, give them love, everyday. Let ’em cry, let ’em giggle, let them sleep in the middle. Oh, just let them be little.”

*© 2004 MIKE CURB MUSIC/SONGS OF BILLY DEAN (admin by Mike Curb Music) (BMI)/Sony/ATV Tree Publishing (BMI). All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Author: Amanda Berg
Volume 110, Number 10
Issue: October 2023

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