He crouched beside me, grinning, with his little cup held yearningly under the spigot of the water cooler to catch any stray drops. We had brought a limited amount of drinking water across the border with us to Mexico for our mission trip that day. When the Bible games were over, the water (with lunch) was served. I was assigned the position of filling the water cups with the restriction of “no more than one cup of water for each person.”
The tenacious little guy beside me couldn’t have been more than four years old on that 104-degree day. But, though he persistently kept his cup close in hopes of catching more water, I rigidly stuck to the guideline I had been given. I still remember his face, pleading. I wonder how dehydrated he was that hot day, since the only other available water was from a dirty horse trough nearby. How I wish now that I had asked permission to give him more, especially since when we returned to Texas for the night we ended up dumping the extra water on the grass.
A few years later, I was struck during my devotions with a verse I had read before, but never applied to me: “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose his reward” (Matthew 10:42). The opportunity to give that dear little Mexican boy another cup of cold water is gone but the opportunity to serve our neighbor boy is still here!
How often we could treat the young ones around us better if we thought of serving them as if they were Yeshua when He was a child! We love little children so much but sometimes we forget how fully human each little person is. Each yearning of their hearts to tell us a little made-up story, each “I want to be with you” moment, each “will you play with me?”, is an opportunity to bend down, make time and fully love. Thinking of children as of equal value as adults puts a whole new spin on how we respond to them.
Remember when you were a young ‘un and that “big girl” braided your hair all pretty, or that young man pushed you on your tricycle, or that neighbor lady gave you a cookie? We remember, don’t we?! And those times gave us such a feeling of worth, like we meant something to the world. Now we’re on the other side. We’re the “big girl,” the neighbor. Let’s take every new opportunity to give that cup of cold water with a demeanor accompanying it that says, “You mean a lot to me. I love you.” We’ll never regret it, and it’ll mean so much to their little hearts!!