The rough-hewn slats on the boardwalk creaked softly as we made our way to the General Store at the KOA campground. The sun was shining; a slight breeze was wafting gently through the towering maple trees overhead. We approached the screen door and it creaked loudly as we opened it and went in.
“Good Morning Ma’am, how can I help you?” The friendly cashier greeted us warmly and the sweet smells of scented candles and cinnamon sticks permeated the atmosphere.
“Hi, how are you?” I returned his way. “We’re just here to check out your little store and let the children pick out something to take home with them.”
“Well, if there is anything I can help you with, let me know.” He offered again.
“Thank you.” I replied politely as I turned to see what the children were searching out.
“Look Mommy!” Called six year old Joshua as he tried on a stiffly-woven straw cowboy hat. “Isn’t this cool? Can I get this one, Mom?”
It’s hard to resist the innocent excitement of a young boy, so I conceded and took joy in the huge smile and squeal of delight that it produced.
Four year old, strawberry-blond, Michaela, had wandered over to a large, straw basket filled with a myriad of colored rocks and seashells. I thoroughly enjoyed her wide sparkling eyes and her infectious smile! “I like these ones, Mom, can I get these?”
“Yes, yes and ….. Where’s Benjamin?” My heart suddenly skipped a beat. I was so caught up in Josh and Micki’s delights that I forgot to keep my eye on Benjamin.
In the last several years, my eight year old Benjamin had been displaying some very autistic-like behavior and it had become very evident to me that I needed to keep a close watch on him at all times…. I could not believe that I had so easily dropped my guard and let him slip away on me.
I could feel the color draining from my face as my worst fears overtook my thoughts. I turned hastily to the friendly cashier. “Sir, could you please keep an eye on these two while I run out and find my son, Benjamin? I’ll be right back….Josh, Micki, stay right here by the counter, I will be right back…I have to find your brother!”
I couldn’t run fast enough to the screened entrance. The door responded to my hurried push and out I flew! No sooner had my foot hit the wooden slats when I saw him……..
My heart melted with relief and all I could think to do was rush to him and hug him…. “Oh my gosh, Benjamin, you scared me! I thought I had lost you!”
I took a second to gather in what was happening…. He was not out there by himself at all. When I turned around, there were three older women sitting on a wooden bench that leaned up against the side of the General Store. They beamed at me with smiles as bright as the noonday sun.
“That’s quite the little preacher you have there.” The three of them chimed in together.
I turned to question Ben but before my words hit the air, he was already answering… “Yeah, I told them that Jesus died on the cross for them and they need to ask Jesus into their hearts.”
“You did, did you? Well, you are right Benjamin. Everyone needs to know how much Jesus loves them, don’t they?” Then I turned to the gracious women and tossed out a nonchalant, “Well, we haven’t put him out on the circuit yet, but you never know….”
With that I smiled at the ladies and took Benjamin’s hand and led him into the store where Josh and Michaela were waiting.
We were blessed to enjoy Benjamin’s love for Jesus for several years until his undiagnosed illness took his ability to speak and then at age seventeen, it finally took his life. His exuberant love for Jesus and his campground preaching has become his legacy.
“Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people, but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil….be filled with the Spirit.” Ephesians 5:15, 16 (NRSV)
"See now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation." II Corinthians 6:2
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