Alesha, my niece, at the time, was 9 years old when her grandfather, my father died in May, 1999. a visitor from Oklahoma to Indianapolis, Indiana, I went to stay with her and her mother while I was to attend the funeral.
While my sister assisted the family in the funeral preparations, I was given the awesome task of caring for and providing entertainment. “Old enough to keep up with your old uncle, eh!” No sooner had I said this, than I wished I hadn’t. I didn’t know much about Alesha except by the letters and pictures I received from my sister about her. Prior to this visit, I had only seen Alesha two times. In both instances, Alesha was a toddler. So she could not possibly know who I am. So how do you entertain a small girl who probably doesn’t know you from Adam? Will I traumatize her for life? What do I know about this 9 year old little girl? How can I entertain her for the two or three hours her mother was going to be gone? Will she go through separation anxiety?
On the cool May Indiana afternoon, I remembered I brought my laptop computer with me from Oklahoma. There isn’t a child alive, I thought, that would not be entertained by the bells and whistles of a computer. I took the computer out of its bay then hooked it up to the telephone jack and began searching the website for games or programs I thought might entertain Alesha. I had only two goals in mind: 1) Keep Alesha busy; 2) Treat her in a mature manner—no juvenile baby stuff her!
While Alesha quietly played at the computer games, I got on the cell phone to order the largest pizza and drink I could locate. All the while I wondered: Is she enjoying herself? Why doesn’t she react more? Maybe she doesn’t really like playing computer games and is just doing so to please me! I began to have misgivings about taking care of her.
Two days after the funeral, it was time to return home to Oklahoma. Silently, I packed clothes, computer and other writing materials then closed the soft material suitcase. Taking care of Alesha was a mistake, I thought. Perhaps I did not tailor my childcare for a 9 year old. Maybe everything was beyond her age range.
As her mother and I made our final good-byes, then hugged and kissed Alesha, tears began rolling down her face. “Alesha! What’s wrong?” I said. Terrified and afraid I did something horribly wrong and out of the ordinary, I went speechless.
Alesha did not reply.
“What’s wrong? Is something hurting you? You can tell us, okay?”
“It’s just,” she said in timid sobs, “it’s just that I don’t want you to go away uncle.”
I was shocked and left speechless for a few minutes. Then I explained that I had to go to my home in Oklahoma where I was expected to return to work the next day. When I finally made it home, I received a call from my sister that Alesha cried much of day wondering when I would come through the door to provide her with comfort and entertainment.
What a mistake I had made. I expected Alesha to explode with excitement at everything I had done during my stay in Indianapolis. But she did not respond as I expected. After thinking about what was done, I concluded I should never have tried to plan my activities expecting her to respond in the manner I wanted from her.
Since that trip to Indianapolis, I have given a great deal of thought about what I did to my 9 year old niece. I think about that event each and every time I pray to God and wonder why He doesn’t immediately respond the way I want Him to—or expect Him to.
In many ways, when I think about it, God, like Alesha, has His own way of responding as well as time. I need to have the courage and patience to wait or expect God to do what He will do knowing that His response may not be what I want but that the response will be what is best for me.
If you died today, are you absolutely certain that you would go to heaven? You can be! TRUST JESUS NOW