Well, our playgroup officially did their first "service project". All of the kiddos came over with small gifts to include in a shoebox that will eventually be sent as a Christmas present to a little girl somewhere in the world. (http://www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/occ/)
I was thinking about how difficult it is for many of our little ones to really grasp the concept of "needy children". While we can teach them, and explain to them, it is such an intangible and somewhat foreign concept. My children have never experienced true hunger. Or homelessness. And while we attempt to keep the "unnecessary things" to a minimum in hopes that they learn contentment in the Lord and not in material gain, they are definitely not lacking for anything they need, and have more than enough things that they don't need. How can we expect them to understand?
When we went to Wal-Mart this weekend to pick out some gifts for this little girl, Caleb wasn't really getting it. He was already a bit cranky (we had just gotten out of church and he was tired and ready for lunch), and he really didn't seem to be that into helping me pick out gifts for her. I left the store feeling frustrated and disappointed, wanting my son to understand the importance of caring for others. Because Jesus has called us to this.
Then we went out to lunch. And Caleb wanted to pray before our meal, as he often does. He said "Dear Jesus, please help this food make us strong. Amen." Then, just as we all started digging in to our lunch, he started praying again. I didn't catch every word, as I didn't quite realize he was praying until he had partially finished.
But, what I did catch was that he was praying for this little girl. I heard him thank God that we were able to buy her presents. And he lifted this child we've never even met to the Lord.
And I about cried. In his little 3-year old way, he prayed such a mighty prayer. A simple prayer of faith. He thanked the Lord that we were able to buy her gifts, which encouraged me that in some way, he does understand. And he prayed for her, which encouraged me that he trusts that the Lord knows her and cares for her, even if we don't know her name.
Faith like a child.
Caleb doesn't know what it is like to be without food. Or without a home. Or without Christmas presents. But, he is able to understand, if even to a small degree, that there are people, there are children, out there who have such needs. And that we can help them, even in small ways. And most importantly, he knew that praying to God would help. Without any prompting, he trusted God enough to know that he could pray to Him on this precious girl's behalf.
Back to this morning...while the actual process of putting the shoebox together with many little ones did not go as smoothly as I imagined (11 kids ages 3 and under makes for a little bit of chaos in all things), I pray that each of these special children was able to, in their own way, understand what we were doing. And that this would be just one small step in each of their journeys of following the Lord's calling to love others, to care for others, and to help others.
Caleb putting in his gifts...
The group (not everyone is pictured!)...
Ready to be dropped off...
And I am sure that even if I forget to pray for this little girl, Caleb will remind me.
Faith like a child. We could probably all use a little more of that.