“She acts just like you did at that age.” “He’s the spittin’ image of his daddy.” Proud parents love to hear such things about their children (assuming the children are being praised). Not only is our parenting being validated; we ourselves are being complimented, and who ever gets enough of that?
When we think of children strictly as “ours,” however, we do well to remember that God loved them first and still loves them best. We hold them in solemn trust for him. One day a group of moms brought their little children to Jesus. As the children climbed all over him, the disciples tried to shoo the children away. Jesus was indignant. He said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14).
The sharpness in Jesus’ tone was necessary, forcefully getting across two huge concepts: (1) These children need me. They are sinners too. (2) Word and sacrament can build faith in their little hearts too. They can believe in me. They are part of God’s kingdom of faith, not someday but right now.
Here’s the good part—if God claims them, then he obligates himself to help us. Forgiveness for our selfishness and negligence. Rescue for our parenting mistakes. Blueprints for decision making. And above all, joy—joy at being given the grandest work any human being could ever do.