You may have heard that popular artist Thomas Kinkade died last week. You may love him or hate him but there's no denying his art appealed to many folks who have an emotional connection to his paintings. There was a sense of warmth, nostalgia and memory about them. Although I can tell an impressionist from cubist I'm no art critic, but there is one form of art I've always been excited about - refrigerator art. Unless you are a grandparent or a parent, refrigerator art is not on your must see list. There's no refrigerator art gallery. Sotheby's doesn't hold auctions when famous refrigerator artists die. But I love it just the same. Refrigerator art is the lexicon of secret communication between small children and their parents. Drawings of scribbles... faces with spikey hair... tanks with ginormous gun barrels... children with three fingered hands and giant thumbs... House's with smoke stacks and green smoke... all of them part of the secret world - the inner world of a child. When such offerings are proffered the parent feels as special - perhaps more special - than the child. He or she is being "let in" to the child's inner life with a simple joyful connection. "Look Daddy! Look at what I did! Look at what I can draw!"
As a parent I valued such art and displayed it proudly. My children are nearly grown now so their offerings don't go on the refrigerator any more - although they are no less precious to me. Yet when I visit another parent's home and observe a small child's artwork on the fridge, I know with a wink and a nod that the father and mother of that house feels the same way. Perhaps this is self-evident, but the value of the artwork is not due to its quality. It's the giving, the sharing and the giver that makes it special. It's not what they have to offer that matters but the act of offering coupled with how precious they are to the recipient. It's the "letting me in" nature of the gift that matters. That's why these treasures are powerful. It's why they are sometimes saved long after they have faded and frayed and their authors have gone on to have families of their own. A mom or a dad remembers the joy and the pleasure of a small child's gift to a parent.
So it is with our lives and our worship. Jesus wants us to come to him as little children - unpretentious, unabashed, offering what we are and what we have. But we can easily get it twisted. We sometimes think that it is the gift that he values and not the giving and the giver.