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Faith Like a Child
¡§He is my brother Jonathan¡. They entered the room together, one limping as he walked, the other walking patiently by his side. Matthew and Jonathan were brothers who will be attending my VBS class for the next few days. Jonathan was a 9-year-old boy who suffered from mental and physical disabilities. He was just as smart as all the other kids in my class, yet it took him a little longer to formulate his thoughts and put them into words. When he walked, his right leg struggled to hold him up as he limped from side to side. The simple task of walking was a battle for him, and climbing stairs seemed almost impossible. But he pressed on.
¡§Do you want to get on the elevator, Jonathan?
¡§No¡¨, he spoke vaguely and slowly, but firmly, ¡§I think I can do it¡¨. And he did.
His older brother Matthew was his best friend. Matthew was a year older than Jonathan, but he was his strength and support. One day near the bottom of the stairs, Jonathan fell hard in front of all the kids. I could see the disappointment on his face. Then I saw Matthew run to his side and I heard, ¡§It’s okay. You’re almost done Jonathan, you can do it! I think that was the voice that carried Jonathan through and kept him going. They were inseparable and I understood why.
All week in my classes, I noticed Jonathan’s eyes light up when we talked about the great love of Jesus. Although he smiled a lot, he rarely spoke. On one of the last evenings of the session, we talked about the value of knowing and loving the Lord. I am not one to push children to salvation. I’m actually wary and don’t have much faith in telling kids to “Pray the Salvation Prayer.” Even my heart became cynical that a child could actually be saved at such a young age. I just wasn’t sure that they would grasp and understand.
I forgot something – the mighty power of the Holy Spirit. I forgot that God calls us to believe like a child. We must adapt to their ways – the simple trust and dependence that comes from nothing more than a child. This kid is destined for great things.
After the lesson, I asked anyone who wanted to know more about Jesus to stay back and chat with me because of the lack of craft time. Sure enough, everyone bolted out the door and headed to their next destination. As I was packing my things and getting ready to leave, I noticed that Jonathan hadn’t moved. He slowly stood up and walked over to me.
¡§Miss Debbie¡¨, he spoke slowly. ¡§Can you tell me how to love Jesus?¡¨
Everything melted inside me. Here was a dear boy who had already realized that there was something more to this life, and he wanted it. Smiling, I joked, “Are you sure you want to leave out the craft stuff?” Jonathan replied in all seriousness, “Miss Debbie, this is more important” K.
So we sat and talked. We talked about Jesus as needing him as people who were born with sin. ¡§I always do bad things – don’t I?¡¨ he asked me. He understood. We talked about the cross and the beauty that comes when Jesus comes and takes away the sins of the world. We talked about Christ’s suffering and how he died in our place. ¡§Did Jesus go to hell for us when he died so we wouldn’t have to?¡¨ Now did he grasp more theological truth than I was willing to answer?º
He was completely ready to accept the Lord and by the end of the 20 minutes I was sure he had fully grasped the power of Christ’s love. The Lord is doing a great work in this little boy’s heart.
I prayed for him, and then he prayed with all beauty and simplicity, asking the Lord to come and take him, to come and change him. ¡§Does Jesus change my feelings at all? ¡¨ he asked: ¡§because sometimes I am not very brave. I have no doubt that Jonathan will date the bravest man.
God’s transforming power in life cannot be confused with anything else. ¡§Miss Debbie,’ he said, ¡§I was so happy when Jesus came into my heart that for a moment I was out of breath! It was clear she was touched, her bright face filled with joy.
As we left the room to meet her brother (I had never seen them apart before) it went fast! ¡§Matthew!! Guess what?!¡¨ ¡§What, Jonathan?¡¨ ¡§Tell him, Miss Debbie!¡¨
¡§Jonathan trusted in Jesus today, Matthew. He asked her into his heart.¡¨
¡§Have you done this before, Matthew?¡¨ Jonathan asked very seriously.
¡§ Well, why not? Why not now? ¡¨
This time Jonathan’s voice and hands led the way and it was a beautiful sight.
Sure enough, Máté decided right then and there that he wanted to take some time to hear more about Jesus, and by the end of our conversation he had also decided that he wanted to take this step in his life. He followed Jonathan into an irreplaceable relationship with God Most High.
Jonathan walked back to meet his father, walking faster than his legs could carry him, he couldn’t wait to tell his father what had happened. The whole way back was full of questions, he wanted to know more and more.
¡§Miss Debbie, does my father read my Bible to me every day because I can’t prepare well? Miss Debbie, I won’t get my Bible until I get home. Is it okay if I don’t make it for a week? Miss Debbie, I did something wrong today, will Jesus be able to forgive me again?¡¨
His faith and passion put me to shame at the age of 9.
I learned a lot from Jonathan, even though I was the one who should have been there to teach him – but oh, how often the truth is revealed to us in the most humbling of ways.
I have learned that my complexity often keeps me away from the simplicity that lies in the deep love of Christ. I have learned many times that I trust the mighty and indescribable power of the Holy Spirit in my tactics and evangelistic methods. I learned that in order to enter the kingdom of God¡K
We must all become like children. There is no other way.
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