To say the least, I have led an unusual life. I have labored in the steamy jungles of Panama. I have sat down for dinner with the vice president of China. I have lived in homeless shelters and stayed in castles. Now, I can add one more adventure—probably the greatest challenge yet.
One Easter Sunday, I did something I have never done in all my years of ministry: I served in the nursery, helping with the bed babies. Being a man, I thought this experience would be a piece of cake. What could a 10-pound baby do against my 185 pounds of wisdom and experience?
I reported for duty at 9:20 sharp, ready to receive these bundles of joy. As the parents and little ones began to arrive, I realized again that parenting has changed. Back when our boys were small, my wife and I just handed them to the nursery worker with some extra cloth diapers, a milk bottle and a wet wash rag tucked neatly inside a plastic bag. Then we were good to go.
Today’s parents must give their child’s life history, sleeping and feeding cycle, and all the reasons why this little one must be taken care of differently than any other child. They explain the entire contents of their child’s diaper bag: favorite toys, wet wipes, a change of clothes, medical history (how much medical history can a month-old baby have?) and lists of telephone numbers (mother’s cell phone, father’s cell phone, doctors’ telephone numbers and the number for Domino’s Pizza).
These young babies were precious—until their parents disappeared. Suddenly, the cute little girl that I was cuddling—so sweet in her flowery pink Easter dress—turned into the Tasmanian Devil. No, she didn’t look like him, but the screams that came out of this tiny little baby certainly reminded me of him! The more I rocked her, the more she cried. I didn’t know what to do, so I reverted to the only thing that I do know. I prayed for Jesus to come back—quickly.
Jesus knows my heart, so He must know that I would gladly welcome Him back to deliver me from that eternal smell—and yes, the nursery does have a smell. I had the rocking chair next to the changing tables—and of course, every baby there had to have a diaper change. I heard one nursery worker, changing the only baby boy in the room, say something about “exploding.” Even I knew this was not good news.
Next, the same worker called for this little boy’s diaper bag. Whatever had “exploded” had gotten all over his pants. A distinct smell accompanied this episode, instantly setting off my gag reflex. I didn’t dare turn around. I already knew that a glimpse of the explosion site would send me into years of counseling.
In today’s nursery, all diapers must be disposed of properly. Workers place them into a special device—I think they called it the Diaper Dump. It resembled something I saw on the Discovery Channel, a cross between a black hole and a nuclear waste container.
Next, we did the Bed Baby Aerobics: pick one up, rock, pat on the back, put to bed; pick up another one, rock, pat on the back, put to bed. Go back to the first baby, pat it on the back so it doesn’t wake up, and start all over with the third baby.
When church was finally over, I was never so glad to see grownups in all my life—especially grownups who could relieve us of those rug rats. I now know why nursery workers have smiles on their faces when you come to pick up your kids. You have come to save them from a fate worse than death!
After 112 minutes of serving in the nursery, I take my hat off to all of you who serve week after week. I can think of no tougher job in the Kingdom. I believe that those who will sit closest to Jesus one day will be nursery workers.
Isn’t there a Bible verse in which Jesus says, “Don’t hinder the nursery workers from coming to me, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these”? If not, there should be!
Photo by RODNAE Productions