“So what do I do now?” I asked my sister after coming forward as the newest member of her church.
“You serve.” She said.
“Oh, okay. Where?” I questioned innocently.
“In the preschool room, right now.” She answered.
“Right now? Like, right this minute right now?” I asked with much concern and alarm.
As all big sisters tend to do, she assured me that l would be just fine.
I followed her into the classroom, relieving a grandma from her temporary duty. Gratefully I was given a brief summary of the guidelines and expectations. More importantly, I learned the location of the Bible Story, tissues, cheerios and wet wipes. Then off my sister ran to teach the elementary children upstairs.
There they were…scores of precious little children screaming gleefully and running around the room in circles simply because they could. I clapped my hands to a rhythmic beat to gain their attention, in hopes of immediate obedience. To my utter disappointment, I was completely ignored. While thinking through my next strategic move, I noticed her. A taller than average, perhaps older girl with a bowl-shaped haircut (popular for kids in the early 90’s) just standing there sobbing quietly. She had streams of everything literally dripping from her face. As I walked toward her, my nose stung from the smell of her possibly days old clothes that permeated the air around her. With literally zero training (thanks, sis) I had only my motherly instincts and worldly experience to go on. I cautiously approached her. She appeared somewhat disheveled, was very shy, scared and unreceptive. Thankfully, she did let me dry her eyes and swab her nose with a tissue.
With an earnest tug on my dress, I was suddenly jolted back to the reality of the task at hand as my son insisted that I run with the ‘toddler herd’ around the room. Giving him a hug, but declining his offer, I retrieved the children’s nearby storybook Bible and with the Lord’s mercy I was somehow able to corral them to sit down to listen to the Bible story. Meanwhile, my little lone crier had still not moved and the streams of unhappiness were once again rolling off her face and down her nose and chin. With a bit of success, I was able to gently coax
A few minutes later, the door creaked open and I looked up from the book to see my dapper husband dressed in his 3-piece pinstriped suit and sweet relief swept over me. As he entered the room walking toward the area where ‘the herd’ was sitting, my little lone crier grew silent. Before my husband could say a word, she threw her hands up in the air and started taking giant steps toward him. I still remember the look on his face. He looked and me, then at her, then at me again. I’m not sure if he was even aware that for every step forward she took, he took one step back in retreat. Finally, this fully grown, wide-eyed man said with fear and trembling, “She’s not coming for me is she?” Before I could answer, my little lone crier had wrapped her arms around his legs and was holding on for dear life! After a brief pause of hesitation, I’ll never forget the way he got down on one knee, squeezed his eyes closed, wrinkled up his nose and wrapped his arms around her while the streams of messy wetness landed on the shoulder of his dry clean only jacket. He held her the rest of the morning. He held her often in the weeks that followed.
I seriously doubt that ‘the herd’ learned or remembered anything about that day. But for me, that brief visual picture of unconditional love will always remind me that we all have a shelter in the storm of life, we just have to throw up our arms and take giant steps toward a loving father. It’s a memory that I’ll treasure forever. (Thanks, sis)
Years later I learned that my little lone crier had been physically abused by her dad. It is my prayer today, that in time, she took giant steps toward knowing, believing and trusting in her heavenly father that loves her unconditionally. The one who sent Jesus, who took her punishment, loves her beyond compare, who wipes away her tears and holds her in His loving arms, snotty mess and
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29.
Lord, I pray today that you would reveal your perfect love to your little and not so little lone criers in this world. May they look for comfort in your loving arms rather than turning to what the world has to offer. May each one