This afternoon a mom and a dad came in to pick up their child at preschool. As I always do, I asked how they were and the mom replied through teary eyes, "We had to put our eighteen-year-old cat to sleep this morning." If you know me you might think that's going to be the pivotal connection in this story as I can closely relate. I lost my sweet Mattie to cancer three years ago and my lovable, fifteen-year-old, diabetic Isaac surely will not be with us forever. My eyes quickly teared up, too.
It's what they said next, though, that made the impression. "We're ready to pick up our little ray of sunshine." The power of a sweet little face was going to change the way they faced the rest of a very tough day.
It was such a simple exchange, but it was such a great reminder that as a teacher, it's so crucial to live out the belief that every single child is a ray of sunshine to someone and should be treated as such. Even when they refuse to sit down and listen. Or throw their shoes in the trash can. Or tip over a cup of paint on purpose. Or somehow forget to clean up even though you just told them to five seconds ago. Or tell you, "NO!" so many times in one day that it makes your skin prickle.
Because moreover, that child is not just a ray of sunshine to a pair of human parents, but to the God who created them. He's entrusted these children to us for such a short amount of time. Every encounter is so fleeting, yet so important, and so precious.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these." (Mark 10:14)
Children are a gift from the LORD, they are a reward from Him. (Psalm 127:3)
Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:4)