“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3
I had this bible verse in my head this morning as I laced up my boots to prepare for my hike with Creation Ridge. I was invited to be a part of the nature-based preschool that takes place here at Ridge Point and I had so much fun! Creation Ridge had three classes this morning, 3–4-year old’s, 5-year-olds, and a 5-year-old Spanish class. The Spanish class was awesome to see, the kids were speaking English to each other, but the teacher would speak to them and teach them about nature and God’s creation in Spanish. Each class had about 16 kids, and so with everyone accounted for, mittens and hats keeping everyone warm, we set out for the rickety bridge.
Along the way the children had a short lesson about nature, we asked the question,
“Where do trees get their nutrients?”
“ROOTS” I heard one kid shout.
With joy on her face, Mrs. D said, “Yes that is right!”
It was refreshing to see how eager the children were to learn and experience God’s design. They had questions about the dirt that the roots were hidden beneath and the branches and the leaves. Hiking with 5-year old’s changes you, for in that moment the world doesn’t seem so bad. The skepticism that we carry as adults and the bad things of this world that we know fade away into the subconscious. Suddenly God’s creation is abundantly clear, and you remember what it’s like to be a little kid in a big world. God placed each tree right where it belongs and He put berries in the exact places He needs them to be.
“The rickety bridge!” a little girl shouted.
We made it; this is where we will worship Jesus.
I figured I knew the answered but I had to ask, “Why do you call it the rickety bridge?”
The answer was obvious, because it was a wobbly bridge that groans as you walk across it. So, we stopped just at the base of the bridge to sing songs of worship. I watched so many children praise God, thank Him for creating them and sing that Jesus is their friend who died for them. 40 little kids clapping their hands and singing together
“What mighty God we serve, what mighty God we serve. Angels bow before him; heaven and earth adore him. What mighty God we serve!”
It’s funny, you always see children’s ministry come up with hand gestures so that the kids can remember the words. I was initially just watching and listening with a little foot tap to go along with the rhythm, but I couldn’t resist the urge to praise God with them, clapping my hands and pointing to myself as I sang “Jesus loves me so.”
The day for a creation ridge class is not long in adult terms, but hiking, playing, and learning can take a lot of energy for a 3–5-year-old. We had to hike back from the rickety bridge, up a hill and over to a field where we learned about how Daniel’s faith saved him from the lion’s den. I was surprised that the children knew this story so well. Mrs. D asked what happened to the lion when Daniel was thrown into the den and the kids knew it was faith in God that saved him. Prayer to the one true God is powerful and we learned that we could pray in school, at home, or while riding a bike (if we keep our eyes open). One kid shouted, “We can pray EVERYWHERE.” Childlike faith takes away the human limitations we sometimes put on God.
Childlike faith helps us love freely. The kids needed only an hour or so to trust me. All I did was smile, give a few encouraging words and we were all best friends. We ran around together, played tag, keep away, built a bridge as well as played cops and robbers. I don’t particularly know why, but the kids had so much fun with me during play time. I was exhausted running around with all of them, but I also felt so much joy. At one point I slipped and fell down while they were chasing me, and they all jumped on me. I was breathing heavily and one of the older kids was so compassionate that he started pulling kids off me and shouted
“Hey, get off of him, he can’t breathe!”
I was fine of course, but it was just encouraging to see that he cared for my well-being. When we were done playing and running around together, one of the kids came up to me and said “Mr. Bryson, I love you.” I looked down at him, he had such a big smile on his face and all I could say was “Thank you, I love you too buddy.” I had so much fun being in preschool again.