Toddlers love hard. They love their toys, their friends, and their people.
This last weekend my son-in-law, a youth minister, was away all weekend for the annual youth retreat. My two-year-old granddaughter, Margaret, missed him so much that she insisted on going to bed each night with his photo clutched in her tiny hand.
On Sunday at church, I saw my grandnephew, also aged two, and he had a small plastic farmer clutched in his hand. My niece smiled and explained this toy had been renamed, Daddy. Evidently, Daddy had been in Cooper’s hand all weekend.
So, what can toddlers and Psalm 100 teach me about love? How can soul tending in Psalm 100 help me love God?
The psalmist begins with a command.
1 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Psalm 100:1 ESV
- Make a joyful noise.
Begin each day by making a joyful noise to the Lord. I have to appreciate that God does not ask me simply to sing because He knows sometimes, I can’t sing that well. I might miss the note or mix up the verses. God wants to hear from me anyway because He commands it.
Have you ever watched a toddler sing? It’s a full-body experience typically with hand motions both learned and made up. Watching the way Margaret sings, without a care in the world, reminds me of how God wants me to make a joyful noise to Him.
God commands me and all the earth to sing to Him because He knows we all need more joy in our lives. God designed us to make joyful noises. It was all part of the original blueprint. Belting out a song, without any care for who is listening, beside the Lord, is a great way to connect with our Abba Daddy God. Can I set aside a few minutes today to make joyful noises to please Him?
2 Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Psalm 100:2 ESV
2. Sing while you serve.
One of my best grandma skills is making up silly songs. Whenever we need to clean up toys, wash hands, or go to bed, I have a song I sing with Margaret and her little brother, Ian. Toddlers don’t naturally love to serve but singing while we do something brings smiles and giggles every time.
I think Snow White’s dwarfs might well have been onto something, “Whistle While You Work”. For God’s children of any age serving while singing or whistling can be a great way to love the task you set your hands to. God calls me to serve Him, and He requires I do it with gladness not grudgingly. For a watching and wondering world, my service to God is a testimony that far exceeds the words that I say. If I appear to be serving God out of a sense of obligation or in a way to please other people, it’s a poor witness.
What song can you sing to find joy in serving today?
3 Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Psalm 100:3 ESV
3. Know God
Toddlers know what they love, and they certainly love what they know. Therefore, toddlers, just like me, love a well-kept schedule and predictable rhythms in their lives. When Daddy is gone working at the youth retreat, in Margaret’s case, or working extra shifts in law enforcement, in Cooper’s case, clinging to a familiar object that they know reminds them of Daddy really helps.
We all need frequent reminders to hold onto in times of uncertainty. As children of God, holding onto scripture, listening to worship music, and spending time at church help us know God. What can you cling to this week to remind you to love God?
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! Psalm 100:4 ESV
4 Say thank you, please.
Saying thank you is not something that most toddlers do without prompting. I have often found myself saying, “Say thank you, please.”
The question becomes, which came first? Giving thanks or being grateful? Could it be that the more I give thanks, the more grateful I become? The more I list all God has blessed me with, the more I see He has done?
Entire books and social media campaigns have been created on the concept of thankfulness and how the practice can grow greater appreciation in hearts and minds. (See “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp to learn more.) Sometimes, Margaret and I spend time taking turns thanking God for family members and friends. The list often goes on and on.
5 For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. Psalm 100:5 ESV
1 John 4:19 say, “we love because He first loved us.” When my daughters were preschoolers, they both attended Bible Study Fellowship, and there they learned many songs. The one they both sang with gusto was “We love because He first loved us.” It was an incredibly simple song with plenty of repetition, just the kind toddlers love.
We love God in response to God’s steadfast love. His love for each of us is not based on what we have done or how well we do it. It is all about God pursuing each of us with his relentless and sacrificial love that lasts forever for all generations, especially those toddlers.