Let the Little Children Come

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The other day I was walking by the playground in the cottage and a young voice cried out, “Mrs. Fisk, look what I can do!” I turned and saw the most adorable little redhead on the monkey bars, swinging his legs up and over one of the bars and hanging there suspended for a minute. He was so proud of himself and it was impossible not to smile.

“Great job, Carson!” I said. I watched him for a few minutes and as I walked away, I thought about his sweet optimism and excitement over a newfound skill. He was filled with a joy that you don’t often see in people as they age, and when you do it is refreshing. This past week, a beloved radio co-host, Tom Magliozzi (better known as one-half of “Click and Clack, the Tappit brothers” on public radio’s Car Talk) died from complications associated with his Alzheimer’s disease. As a loyal listener who found myself smiling at his jokes on many a Saturday morning, I wept at the news. I have no idea if he was a believer, but I do know he was absolutely, irrepressibly filled with joy. And it was so refreshing that even a person as mechanically impaired as I am tuned in to listen to him regale his audience with car advice peppered with lots of laughter.

As Christians, we are called to “Rejoice in the Lord always!” (Philippians 4:4). We are called to rejoice despite circumstances. But the pressures, worries, and just plain busy-ness of this life often make that difficult. At Arborbrook, it is truly not enough for us to prepare kids for college (though that is part of what we do), and it is not enough that they can get As on their papers or high scores on their SATs; rather for us, it is about passing on the joy of learning and the joy of the Lord. We want students to not only learn, but love to learn. It is in doing so, that they become hungry for more and that the knowledge really sticks.

We are choosing to focus on the things that matter most, “nourishing a love of learning and flourishing in Christ.” For what will it matter if our kids get a high-paying job if they have no space in their life for the Lord? What will it matter if they achieve high test scores but are so turned off by years of being pushed that they have no interest in pursuing higher education? What will it matter if they can read 20 books in a month if not one of those books inspires them to deeper, truer thoughts or more noble actions? What will it matter if they are filled with knowledge but lacking in wisdom?

It was so good to be in Assembly this past Thursday and hear some of our high school young men share testimonies of when it was hard for them to trust God. It was so good to see our young people encouraged to take leadership and to share with their peers. It filled me with joy to see the faith of these young men and to know they are being encouraged by teachers who love them and who model a vibrant relationship with Jesus.

IMG_1479So what does the love of learning look like? Sometimes it takes the form of a fun hands-on activity or a book that is so good you don’t want to put it down. Sometimes it is the joy of discovery like finding a HUGE sweet potato growing in Mrs. Shepherds home garden. And sometimes I think it takes the form of excitement over something that a student thought was too hard and they find one day that they are able to do it. Challenge, provided that it is appropriate to the child’s age and maturity, can be a source of joy and pleasure for our students.   Like little Carson on the monkey bars, or the junior high student who thought he hated to write suddenly writing a beautiful poem- there is pleasure in accomplishment and in the learning of new skills.

Wouldn’t you like to be a little more like Carson on the monkey bars, excited over the new things you are learning and reaching for the next bar that is just out of reach? Wouldn’t you like to be more like Tom Magliozzi and full of laughter? Or like Emily Shepherd, whose passion for God’s creation is totally infectious? I know that I would.  I want to come to Jesus full of trust in Him regardless of circumstances, rejoicing always.   🙂

But Jesus called the children to him and said, “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.” (Luke 18:16-17)