Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Our Mutual Friend (not about the book) (09/15/11)
- TITLE: The Least of These
By Brenda Shipman
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I continued shelving and sorting books, one of my favorite tasks as a volunteer at the library's used bookstore. I hummed along to the beautiful chamber music I'd put in the store's boom box earlier that morning. But I kept my eyes on the boy, and marveled at what a treasure he was.
He ventured off his chair, drawn to the stack of children's books next to him. Grandma immediately shouted at him, "You are so bad! What a brat!” My heart broke for him.
Trying to calm the angry retort screaming in my head, I grabbed a stack of books and began mechanically squeezing them onto the shelves: "Grisham...G, G, G...here it is." I worked my way close to him, knelt down and looked him in the eyes. Oh those eyes - so open, vulnerable, hungry to behold all things beautiful and amazing and wonderful. Ears eager to hear words of affirmation. A starving boy, here in the bookstore.
I took note of the toy dinosaur he held in his little hands and said, "What a cool dinosaur! Can I see it?” He beamed from the attention and said, "Look what he can do! He can move his mouth so he can eat out of his food bowl right here, see?” He showed me the attached tiny bowl. I asked him if he liked books, he said he did. I told him I had a boy, too, but that he was twenty-six years old. His face grew more animated as he exclaimed, "My name is William and I'm four years old!” I said, "That is a great name, William - a very strong name.”
He got distracted and there were customers waiting to check out at the register. I didn't want to break the connection I'd felt with this child. I sensed God had just given me a glimpse of heaven, of His kingdom. In that moment, Jesus' words, "Suffer the little children to come unto Me for of such is the kingdom of heaven," took on flesh. This child before me, one of His "least of these", personified the simplicity and humility in which God longed for me to be clothed.
No wonder He loved them so, no wonder He pulled them into His lap. I longed to lay my hands on this child and pray for him, as Jesus did when the children were brought to Him, especially in light of the total lack of blessing he was receiving from his "caregivers." When I looked into William’s big brown eyes, I saw the face of Jesus, our mutual friend. And when I demonstrated a small measure of kindness and compassion toward him, invited him to "come unto me", I pray that he may have seen the face of Jesus, as well.
When William walked out of the bookstore, I said, “Goodbye, William, come in again, okay?” And I prayed….for the boy, asking God to care for Him throughout his lifetime. And for myself, that I would be willing to be more like a child - humble, open, trusting...able to see the kingdom of God more clearly.
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