With a weathered spoon, I am chasing bubbles in boiling oatmeal when my three-year-old stampedes down the wooden stairs, shouting out with the tree in his sights.
“Shh!” I shake my head, “Your sister’s still sleeping.”
It’s a ruckus when he’s in the room. The ancient quote is running through my brain now, Plato’s words telling me to lighten up: “A boy is, of all wild beasts, the most difficult to manage.”
A little click and seven-hundred sparkles come on and make the place a little brighter, the bulbs on the tree teaming up with the morning sunlight that stretches down through the gray clouds into our windows.
On the shelf, painted porcelain people and barnyard animals gather around. My loud little boy fits right in with the rowdy crowd of the Bethlehem stable. He scuttles over to the unfinished nativity and reaches out to the wooden box next to it, the one with all the tiny doors hiding little Christmas secrets. Our Baby Jesus figurine waits in a cubby.
I stand with a kitchen towel in hand and wait for him to open the adjacent door where the figurine will sit for the day, another 24 hours closer to Christmas. But instead he looks at me and opens his mouth to speak.
“Jesus growed down into a baby,” he tells me as he lays eyes on the tiny form.
I marvel to hear it spoken so freshly in the words of a child and I marvel again that the Word who’s big enough to create the world and the sun that it revolves around and the planets that move with it and all that is beyond, that the grand, king-sized Word became so small that He had to use baby talk. He “growed down”. The incorrect grammar says it right. I stop a minute to savor the unedited words, keeping all these things in my heart, my son experiencing Mary’s son, the only begotten of God the Father.
Elliot slides his thumb over the swaddling clothes and adds to the sentence, “And then he growed up into a man.” It’s something to tuck away and so I grab the nearest pen to jot down his words under that December date in my journal. But he isn’t finished. He’s getting to the sad part.
“Then His heart wasn’t beating anymore,” he says.
For a while, I had wondered if my son were too young to know the full story yet. I had timidly read to him of the lashes, the spit, the hatred, the cross, and watched him furrow his own eyebrows at the painting of the thorny crown on Jesus’ head, the Baby King all grown up into a dying man.
Is this all that life comes down to…death? I blot my eyes with that kitchen towel. I am afraid for him to figure out that he too will die one day. And maybe I’m afraid to face it myself, forgetting to meditate on the hope that softens the sting.
Next thing I know, he speaks aloud that hope to me, so simple I can’t argue with it. “Then it was beating again,” he says. Not for pretend. Not a metaphor. His actual heart beating again. And so will ours because of Him.
“What next?” I prod him on, wondering at the words he’ll choose, this whole new person relating to his Creator.
“Then God pulled Him up to heaven with his REALLY long arms!” This boy is jumping for joy, reaching high.
I can almost feel those long arms now, God reaching down to here, calling forth His praise from the lips of a child right under my roof. The Savior, meek and mild, has lassoed my little boy with His story…and I am shushed.
Kneeling down, I put my arms around Elliot to give him a squeeze. Then, he opens the door to the new day and stows Jesus away.
We fetch little sister and all bow our heads to thank God for our pot of oatmeal and for the food trough bed where Jesus laid His head. I pray first and then Elliot interrupts. It’s his spiritual gift. “God, I know you have Jesus right now and He is coming to pick us up in a minute.”
We move the Christ child from cubby to cubby, from day to day, and wait not so patiently for Christmas when we celebrate Jesus’ first advent. And even greater, when we log another day in the history books, we’re that much closer to His second advent. We are hungering for more than this season can hold. I can tell it. We haven’t even had our breakfast and already this little one has preached me the whole Gospel.
(Luke 2:19, John 1:1-5,14, Matthew 21:16)
Reposted from the archives
Thank God for our precious children. When we can’t see past all the junk in the world, there they are reaching for joy. Love it!
Yes. There are so many times my perspective has been put right from something I heard one of the little ones say. Thankful for their pure, unjaded words.
This is such a beautiful account! Thank you for sharing it so well. I felt as though I was right there with you both throughout the story! I love hearing the way in which little children think regarding spiritual matters.
Just this morning, our four year old blurted out, “Mommy, do you wanna hear what memory verse I know? Even when your parents doesn’t hear, God always hears!”
I’m sure that’s not in the Bible quite in those words, but it is just one way our sweet boy processed that even when his folks aren’t around, he is not free to do or say whatever he wants to. He is accountable to an ever-present, all-knowing God!
Gives me hope that somehow out of the hundreds of messages and words I say in each 24 hour period, something MUST be going into their little brains 🙂 !
God bless you as you abide in Him!
It’s such a comfort to know that we are not the only ones doing the teaching/guiding/counseling, but we are co-laborers with the Creator. Love seeing evidence of this in quotes like the one you shared.
Absolutely beautiful post, Darcy! Sometimes children say the most profound things. How amazing! Love, love, love this!
So much to document when you live with little people seeing the world new. 🙂
So sweet–thank you for sharing this.
oh Darcy! This made me cry in the most wonderful way. Thanks for jotting it down and preserving this memory for everyone.