As far back as he could remember he’d been called Simple Simon. His mama always told him, “Don’t let their words hurt you, Simon. You’re smart enough where it counts. Just ‘cause you don’t read or write, don’t mean you’re lesser.”
Simon’s mama knew about stuff like greater and lesser, so he tried hard to remember. It made it easier to smile at the teasers.
Simon sat in church between his daddy and mama and listened to all the good stories about Jesus. He loved Jesus and told anyone who talked to him. “Mama told me that Jesus loved me long before I ever started loving him. And everyone that Jesus loves is special.” Mama’s words always made Simon feel better.
Since he was now too old to go to school himself, Simon helped his daddy at the elementary school down the street. He worked hard getting scuffmarks off the floor, picking up garbage and shining the windows in classrooms. Mama often told him, “You can feel real good about your hard work, Simon. Your cleaning blesses the people who walk those halls, even if they don’t act like it or ever tell you.” Simon understood blessings. His daddy and mama were two of his.
The last day of Simon’s life on his mama’s side of heaven started like any other. As the students filed into school before classes, Simon stood at the top of the stairs in case someone needed help or didn’t know the way to the bathrooms or office. The night before, his mama had reminded him “Jesus wants to love those kids through you, Simon. He’ll stand with you and help you smile.” Everyone passed by as if he was invisible, but then he heard his name. “Simple Simon, aren’t you supposed to be cleaning?” a young student mocked. Simon felt Jesus’ hand on his shoulder, His breath in his hair, and he just smiled.
When the kids came out for recess, Simon was in the schoolyard picking garbage. He started singing, “Jesus Loves Me” under his breath. This was when the teasing was the worst. His daddy had told him to stay inside and clean windows during recess, but Simon knew someone might need him if they were alone or feeling sad, so he endured the name-calling.
Recess was almost over when he saw a soccer game move into the parking lot, closer to the street. He walked over and said, “You kids go back on the field. You’re breaking rules.” One boy gestured rudely at Simon just as the ball flew over a car. Simon and another boy ran to get it.
“Simple Simon, I’ve got it!” the boy yelled. But before he went any further, Simon pushed him to the ground and out of the way of an oncoming truck. No one else had noticed it as it sped through the school zone.
Tires screeched. Someone screamed. Simon was struck and thrown to the pavement with a thud.
“Call 911! Somebody call 911!”
A crowd gathered around the lifeless body of the handicapped man, named Simple Simon.
Unseen to their eyes, a man knelt beside Simon and stirred him. Simon opened his eyes, stood to his feet and smiled at the heavenly messenger. He looked towards the school, knowing intuitively that his father would be looking for him. There was a moment of sadness and longing, then nothing but joy and certainty as he was drawn to his new home.
“If only Mama could see this table.” Food, beyond Simon’s wildest dreams, was spread out in preparation for his welcome-home banquet. Familiar faces were gathered around the table, but a few chairs were still open. Simon took a lower place, his mama’s words running through his mind. Even though his thoughts had never been clearer, he could not describe how he felt.
A hush came over the guests. Simon sensed a presence behind him. Turning, he looked into the eyes of love as his own welled with tears that spilled down his cheeks.
Jesus’ nail-scarred hands extended in invitation as His words wrapped around Simon, speaking value and worth into the fibre of his being.
“Friend, move up to a better place. Today you are to be honoured in the presence of all your fellow guests. Greater love has no one than to lay down his life for his friends.”
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