Itís amazing the places God brings us as we travel through different seasons of life. He definitely has a plan and purpose for each new destination, both physically and spiritually speaking.
Over the last few months, Iíve been infinitely blessed to be surrounded by my family in my hometown. In the past years Iíve traveled so much, itís been impossible to have consistent, steady months of quality time with each of them. So these days have been an unforgettable series of gifts to me.
Some of my most treasured moments have been with my two nieces and nephew. Itís been such a blast to be available to pour my love into them and share my passion for Jesus with these sweet children. Iím blessed to pick them up from the bus stop, serve up chicken noodle soup in their favorite mugs, make heart-shaped peanut butter sandwiches, and just hang out.
Weíve already built countless memories filled with long walks on the beach talking about Jesus, Godís awesome power, and even what heaven will be like. Together, weíve dreamed of the huge gates of heaven, each made of a single pearl, described the specifications of our unique heavenly mansions, and a million other things. We've even sung spontaneous original worship songs to God at the top of our lungs as we laid out on an ice-covered lake. These are the moments I will cherish forever...
Sometimes Iím even there to cuddle up in bed with them and pray. Just last night, Cole prayed, ďThank you for dying on the cross...that people would respect that...that people on earth would know You...Ē Though fragmented, these prayers were heart-felt and genuine. That sleepy little boy desired for other people to understand what he, himself understands: Jesus is real, alive, and wants everyone on earth to love Him.
A couple of mornings ago, I dropped Cole and Elissa off to catch their bus to school. As they opened my car door to be on their way, I yelled, ďLove you! Go shine some Jesus!Ē And with that, the door slammed shut. I figured it probably went in one ear and right back out the other, but it didnít...
Out of the blue yesterday as Cole and I were hanging out after school, he said, ďHey Aunt Katie, after you told us to go talk about God at school the other day, I told some kids about Jesus and two chose Him.Ē I almost fell over as the words crossed his lips! Iím sure my eyes were as big as saucers as I begged him to tell me exactly how the whole scene played out.
Cole explained how he told the boys that Jesus died for them to save them from their sin and that they could choose to have Him live in their hearts. They could be in heaven with Him forever instead of the Ďvery bad placeí we all deserve because of sin...
He then proceeded to tell me about one of the other boys who didnít believe what he was saying. This little boy said, ďThere is no such thing as the Ďbad place.í Everyone gets to go to heaven if youíre a good person.Ē This rebuttal was clearly difficult for Cole to accept because in his heart, he knew it was not true.
I encouraged him by explaining that every time he takes a chance to talk about Jesus, itís like heís planting a seed in the personís heart. Whether the person seems to accept it or not, Cole has done his part. After the seed is planted, itís Godís job to nurture it. I let him know that every time he talks to that friend about Jesus, it will help the seedís roots grow deeper.
As Cole sat there on my lap, I hugged and hugged him. I asked question after question as the story details were revealed. This little boy wore his faith on his sleeve, took a huge leap, and offered the awesome salvation of Christ to his classmates. It was simple to him Ė heís excited about Jesus and wants those around him to know what he knows. He opened his mouth and shared the gift he has.
What a huge heart housed inside such a small vessel! My sweet nephew is part of the rising generation passionately displaying Christ to this world. These are the children we hear of who immediately stop to pray for their sick mom or dad, daydream about their heavenly homes, and carry Jesus with them to the bus stop. These children are clear reflections of what Jesus was talking about when He said to His disciples, ď...Let the children come to me. Donít stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesnít receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.Ē Luke 18:16-17
Back on that recent morning in my car, I took a chance to encourage my niece and nephew to step out in a special way in the midst their day. I had no idea it would have been received with such impact or that it would have caused such an awesome story to come about.
Iíd like to use that opportunity to remind each of us that children do listen, and that the words of life we speak to each other really do hold great weight for the Kingdom of God. As I described to my nephew, each time we share Godís love with another, it plants a seed...EVERY SINGLE TIME. That morning, I could have stopped with, ďI love you,Ē but I didnít. Without thinking twice, I chose to sow...
In what way can you encourage another person to step out? And how can you, yourself, go out and shine Christ? Maybe today is the day God will open a door for you to sow into the heart of the person next to you at the gas pump. You might feel cumbersome or even silly stepping out in your faith, but the more you do it, the more it becomes second nature. If all else fails, think back to my little Cole Bear...if an 8-year-old child can share Godís message, you and I can too. And so, my friend, I proclaim to you today, ďLove you! Go shine some Jesus...Ē