I bought a best-selling children’s book the other day called Bubble Trouble. It has an intricate rhyme that entertains me. Upon first-reading, it proved to be a bit over Josiah’s head. He had trouble figuring out the plot. The first question upon turning a page, several times, was “Where is the baby’s mother?” We needed to establish that, because, I discovered, this was sort of a scary book about a baby who floats away in a bubble until the townfolk rescue him. When we were finished, Josiah’s first comment was, “I am too big for a bubble to take me,” followed by a hopeful look at my face.
How do we ever learn to deal with our fears? I am still learning. It helped that I had a grandmother who read to me. I got to experience some of the scary things about the big world while snuggled in her rocking chair. It also helped that I was sent to church as a little child to snuggle up with Jesus.
For some reason, a song that was 80 years old by the time my Sunday school teachers taught it to me as a child has kept rising to the surface lately.
Can a little child like me
Thank the Father fittingly?
Yes, oh yes! be good and true,
Faithful, kind, in all you do;
Love the Lord, and do your part;
Learn to say with all your heart,
Father, we thank Thee,
Father, we thank Thee,
Father in Heaven, we thank Thee.
If you want to hear it, try this link.
The fact that I, through some great blessing, retained that song through the onslaught of all the info that started piling up in my lifetime seems kind of miraculous. Every verse is a winner. They all take children seriously and respect them for who they are, according to their capacity. Each calls us to be honorable and good. “Don’t be afraid! You can do it!” I think Monster’s Inc. is trying to do something like that. But there is an awful lot of plot that muddles up the teaching these days.
Mary Mapes Dodge (1831-1905), who is buried up the road just south of Newark, included “Can a Little Child Like Me” in her book Baby Days: A Selection of Songs, Stories, and Pictures, for Very Little Folks in 1877. It was a follow-up to her best seller Hans Brinker (which you can still enjoy on Disney reruns). When people write about Mary Mapes Dodge, she receives the treatment so many Christians of her era receive these days. Her faith is extracted and her work is treated like she was not a Christian. She becomes one more purveyor of plot lines for the plot machines churning out material. But I am pretty sure that in her mind Jesus and Han Brinker went together. Hans had learned to be like Jesus. She most likely hoped children would learn to love the Lord by sitting in a chair with her or singing her song in church. She had had to face her own fears, along with her children, after her husband killed himself and left her a widow. Her faith fueled her second life as an author and editor.
You’ve probably got a child in your life somewhere. They are undoubtedly facing the same fears you are still facing. Take a good look at them and love them. It is better that they learn from you than they are left alone with their fears to extract whatever random thing they latch on to from the tsunami of info that keeps washing over them, and which will keep flooding them the rest of their days, no doubt. I think my meditation today should center on retrieving the good things God has given me via all the good people who loved and spoke for him throughout my childhood – and thank him. The visions we shared in various rocking chairs and song times during my baby days opened my mind and heart to imagine fearlessly walking with God.