Sunday, August 1, 2010
“From the lips of infants and children you have ordained praise.”—Psalms 8:2
by Gwen Stewart
Is there a sweeter sound than a child’s voice?
A baby is born silent. Limbs flailing, skin exposed, he draws his first breath, then cries—confirmation that he is robust, healthy, and ready to greet his family. There is praise in the first cry.
In the weeks to come, the cries grow heartier. Their vigor wakes us at night. Though we moan the lack of sleep, parents respond viscerally to the cry. We know how to quell it: feed, rock, diaper, or soothe the baby. The cries become contented mewls, and the house sleeps again. There is praise in a baby’s midnight crying.
Months later, we talk to the child constantly, as if she can answer. “Would you like some juice?” We hand the toddler a sippy cup and turn to the sink, smiling. One day when we ask, the baby responds with a lispy, “yah”. Our eyes round, our jaws drop. Then, perhaps we hear, “Mama”. Oh, those first sweet words. What praise we offer for those first few words!
In the ensuing years, a child's observations help us see the world anew. Our son finds a caterpillar on the sidewalk. At the dinner table, he declares that the creature looks exactly like Uncle Jim's mustache. We repeat the anecdote for years after. We tell it during long car trips, family dinners and birthday parties. What praise we feel for family legend, the glue that holds us together in good times and in bad.
As they grow, children learn that words matter. They mend a rift or hurt a friend. They cause healing or punishment. They bring division or closeness; foster sharing or cause arguments. By the time children start school, they know the power of words. Praise God that they know the power of words, so they can begin to know the power of HIS Word!
I’m the luckiest grownup, because I guide children in the most powerful form of words: song. I often tell my students that no one, not the most accomplished singer in the world, can communicate what children say in song. Bell-like and pure, sweet and strong, children’s voices carry a purity that cuts straight to the heart. I believe God delights in song-praise of children. How often I’ve felt His near Presence when they sing, as if He bends low to catch the heartwarming, honest praise from their lips!
Today, I thank God for our children. I thank God that, from their lips, He has ordained praise. I thank God that I’m able to savor its sweet, sweet sound.
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