“But Jesus said, ‘Let the children alone, and do not burden them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’ And after laying His hands on them, He departed from there.” Matthew 19: 14-15.
Jesus loved children. There are a number of stories in the scripture that bear witness to that fact. I thought of that this week after an experience I had during my morning walk in downtown Cambridge. Each day after I drop Lisa off at work, I spend an hour or so walking from one end of the main downtown area to the other. Most often I encounter people starting to arrive at work or city workers sweeping sidewalks and watering the potted plants that hang from the street light poles. The world everywhere is just waking up at seven in the morning and Cambridge Ohio is no exception. Most of my passing encounters with other people during my walks happen with just a mumbled “Good Morning!” greeting and nothing more. That was not the case this past Friday morning.
At one point during my journey I passed an apartment building and noticed a little boy playing near the front door. It is important to say that the apartment door was no more than three feet from the sidewalk where I walked and the little boy was playing in a brick section of the walk directly in front of his door. I noticed the child did not have a grass area in which to play but had managed to dig out some dirt between the bricks to maneuver his little trucks and cars. He was rutting out roads between the bricks and had managed to mound up enough dirt for hills to push his toy trucks over. It is amazing how much I noticed in the few seconds it took for me to walk up to and past he and the little play area he had created. Lisa is right in saying that I normally don’t notice anything. She has said I would not see a moose if it was in our back yard. She is right about that. But this time I noticed all these things about this little boy playing outside his meager apartment. And then something amazing happened.
Every now and then in my life an idea will hit me so sudden and unexpected that I am convinced something supernatural is involved. My hunch is that I am not the only person to have experienced this. Where my selfish thoughts are typically on the mundane issues of my own life – this idea, this unexpected thought, seemed so unusual – so outside me that I knew I had to act on it. And I knew that the idea was not just mine alone. God had just shown up. My steps quickened as I rounded the corner out of sight from the little boy playing and I headed down the main street of Cambridge on a mission.
The “Dollar Store” on Wheeling Avenue, the main street of Cambridge, opens early each morning and it was there that my unusual and unexpected idea started taking shape. I scanned the aisles quickly and soon found the toy section. I searched for a few minutes until I found exactly what I needed. After paying the cashier – I headed back out into the morning sunshine and back to the little boy. It’s sad to say but I thought about my next move as I headed back down the sidewalk and realized that in this perverted world I had to be careful when talking or interacting with children. Fearing my actions may be misinterpreted – I thought through what I would do next. The final idea in this grand scheme came to me as I approached him still playing near his front door. As I walked up beside him I laid the yellow “Dollar General Store” bag down and said, “I remember playing trucks and cars when I was a boy. Have fun!” And with that I walked away. I did not want the boy to follow me or ask any questions. I don’t even know what his reaction was. I just wanted him to have what was in the yellow bag. When he did look inside he found twelve brand new toy trucks and cars. But by then I was long gone.
Jesus worked in people’s lives and then often left without really knowing what happened. Often He healed people or blessed their lives in some way and then went away. Being God I can assume He really did know the effect of His ministry. It was HIs purpose to move forward and not linger as He fulfilled His earthly mission. In the story of Jesus and the children – He blessed them and then departed. We don’t know what effect that blessing had on those children – my guess is that it was profound. But He left – for whatever reason. Maybe He did not want to draw attention to Himself – I don’t know. The important thing is that He blessed them.
This past week I had the opportunity to bless a little boy playing on a dirty sidewalk here in Cambridge. I write this not to shine light upon my good deed. The truth is my good deeds come far too infrequently. This is to say that an unexpected miracle happened just off Wheeling Ave. in Cambridge Ohio. Jesus showed up and, through me, blessed another child. For an instant it felt like I was standing on holy ground and I had a profound sense that in that moment – I was not alone.
What a lucky man I am to have been there.
Be a blessing! Steve and Lisa