January 26, 2017
A Childlike Heart
Friend to Friend
I recently read the story of a young family who went out to eat at a local restaurant. They were the only family with children eating. The mom sat their little boy, Erik, in a high chair and noticed everyone was quietly sitting and talking. Suddenly, Erik squealed with glee and said, "Hi!" He pounded his fat baby hands on the high chair tray. His eyes were crinkled in laughter and his mouth was bared in a toothless grin as he wriggled and giggled with joy.
The mother looked around and saw the source of his merriment. It was a man wearing baggy pants and shoes so worn that his toes poked out. His shirt was dirty and his hair was uncombed and unwashed. His whiskers were too short to be called a beard, and his nose was so varicose it looked like a road map. The man sat far away, but the mother was sure he smelled bad. His hands waved and flapped on loose wrists in an effort to make Erik laugh.
“Hi there, baby. Hi there, big boy. I see ya, buster," the man said to Erik. Erik’s mom and dad exchanged looks and asked, "What do we do?" Erik continued to laugh and answer, "Hi." Everyone in the restaurant noticed the man who was creating a nuisance with the beautiful baby. Their meal came and the man began shouting from across the room, "Do ya patty cake? Do you know peek-a-boo? Hey, look, he knows peek- a-boo." Nobody thought the old man was cute. He was obviously drunk.
Erik’s parents were embarrassed and ate in silence. Not Erik. He was running through his repertoire for the admiring skid row bum, who in turn, reciprocated with his cute comments. The parents finally got through the meal and headed for the door. The husband went to pay the check and told his wife to meet him in the parking lot. The old man sat poised between the mother and the door. "Lord, just let me out of here before he speaks to me or Erik," she prayed. As she drew closer to the man, she turned her back trying to sidestep him and avoid any air he might be breathing. As she did, Erik leaned over her arm, reaching with both arms in a baby's "pick-me-up" position. Before the mom could stop him, Erik had propelled himself from her arms to the man's.
Suddenly a very old smelly man and a very young baby consummated their love and kinship. Erik in an act of total trust, love, and submission laid his tiny head on the man's ragged shoulder. The man's eyes closed, and tears hovered beneath his lashes. His aged hands full of grime, pain, and hard labor, cradled the baby and gently stroked his back.
No two beings have ever loved so deeply for so short a time. The mother and every other person in the restaurant were awestruck. The old man rocked and cradled Erik in his arms and his eyes opened and in a firm and even commanding voice said, "You take care of this baby." Somehow the mother managed, "I will" from a throat choked with emotion.
He pried Erik from his chest, lovingly and longingly, as though he were in pain. The mom took her baby and the man said, "God bless you, ma'am. You've given me my Christmas gift."
With Erik in her arms, the mom ran for the car. Her husband was wondering why his wife was crying and holding Erik so tightly saying, "My God, my God, forgive me." Everyone had just witnessed Christ's love shown through the innocence of a tiny child who saw no sin, who made no judgment; a child who saw a soul, and a mother who saw a suit of clothes. The mother was a Christian who was blind, holding a child who was not. A ragged old man had unwittingly preached the message found in Scripture, "To enter the Kingdom of God, we must become as little children."
Father, please forgive me for the times I have judged others and failed to love them like You wanted me to love them. Help me see others through Your eyes of unconditional love. Give me a heart of love and mercy toward others in need.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Read the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37. Put yourself in the place of the wounded man. How would you have responded to the actions of the Samaritan? Put yourself in the place of the Samaritan. What was he thinking when he saw the wounded Jewish man lying on the road? Put yourself in the place of the inn keeper. What do you imagine he thought when the Samaritan brought the wounded Jewish man in? How does this story apply to your life?
More from the Girlfriends
It is so easy to live each day with tunnel vision. To dismiss people because they don’t look like we do or act like we do. Jesus never did that. He always made time for the lonely man, woman and child in need. I want to be more like Him. I want to have His eyes and His heart when it comes to meeting the needs of people He brings into my life. How about you? Need help? Check out Mary’s book, Sandpaper People.
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Originally published Thursday, 26 January 2017.