As a friend was passing through town we decided to meet in the airport for coffee and conversation. We were talking about the trip, future plans, and the journey through life, when behind us we heard two small children yelling at the top of their voices, "Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!" Naturally we turned to see that the "Daddy" they were thrilled to see was their solder father who was obviously returning from a tour in the desert.
They ran to him and literally jumped into his arms. They hugged him and kissed him. He hugged them and kissed them. They could not tell him everything they wanted to tell him quick enough. He kneeled down to their level and in between hugs and kisses the little girl and her younger brother took turns crawling on his back on his shoulders.
The soldier's young wife and mother of the two children stood by patiently allowing the children to enjoy this reunion with their daddy. When her turn came ... well, let me say, I felt like we were invading their privacy. They embraced and they kissed and they kissed and they embraced. At one point I thought about applauding as a way of thanking the family for their sacrifice and to celebrate his safe return, but it seemed out of place. This was a private moment shared by everyone in that part of the airport. We were all frozen in time and immersed in the joy of the moment. We simply allowed this soldier, his wife, and their two children the freedom to express their joy without restraint.
Oh, it should be noted that as mom and dad reconnected, the little boy was crawling up his dad's back and the little girl stood next to them jumping up and down in anticipation of her next moment with her dad.
After a few moments they walked on and we, along with all the other travelers, went back to our worlds leaving this traveler feeling blessed by the opportunity to see the unrestrained joy of a little boy, a little girl, a loving wife, and a travel weary soldier. Blessed, but also convicted by the absence of that kind of joy in my own life.
When was the last time I was so excited to see my "Daddy" that I could not contain myself? When was the last time I let it all out in joyful celebration as I came into His presence? When was the last time His Bride, the church, received the Groom with absolute devotion and love? When was the last time the world stopped to take notice of the people of God as we expressed our deepest feelings of love for our Father without concern for who might be watching, listening, or thinking we were going a bit overboard?
What keeps us from running to our Daddy yelling, "Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!" What prevents us from letting it all out when we are gathered with our brothers and sisters and know we are in His presence? What stops us from jumping up and down with excitement over the next opportunity to talk to our Daddy?
When the children tried to come to Jesus the disciples stopped them, but Jesus stopped them and said, "Let the children come." He wanted to hear their stories. He wanted to see their smiles. He wanted to feel their arms around His neck. He wanted them to crawl all over Him. He wanted to show them how much He loved them. He still does.
Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these" (Matthew 19:14 NIV). One day children were brought to Jesus in the hope that he would lay hands on them and pray over them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus intervened: "Let the children alone, don't prevent them from coming to me. God's kingdom is made up of people like these." After laying hands on them, he left (Matthew 19:13-15 MSG).
Let there be unrestrained joy!