This past week was a nightmare time-wise. But somehow in the midst of non-stop madness, God found ways to bless me beyond what I could have imagined.
Our church held nightly seminars for the past week by Sebastien Braxton on “How to Study the Bible”. It was a huge blessing to me, and I highly recommend checking out the audio files from the seminars as well as the sermons he preached while he was here in Massachusetts.
For the week and few days that he was here, Sebastien was staying in a hotel with his wife and three kids, and I had decided to make some meals for them because I know how difficult it can be trying to cook and eat healthy meals away from home in a hotel room. I had one afternoon free early in the week and figured that would be the best time to cook a little extra and deliver the meals.
When I arrived at their hotel, I waited in the lobby with my large reusable grocery bag full of food. Sebastien’s wife, Candis, came down to meet me with her two older children in tow. I gave her the bag and we began to chat a little bit, but it didn’t take long for her kids to eye the bag with curiosity. N, the older of the two, tried to peek inside the bag and asked what was in the mysterious bag. Candis replied that it was food I had brought for them. Immediately, N came over to me, wrapped her little arms around my leg and said emphatically, “I love you!” Before I had a chance to react, her little brother, Z, also wishing to express his gratitude ran over, hugged my other leg and said sweetly, “I love you!”
I was laughing and trying to figure out how best to respond to the overwhelming gratitude of two small children I had never met prior to this moment. Candis smiled and said, “They really do mean it, too.” I awkwardly said thank you to N and Z, not really sure if saying, “I love you,” back to them felt quite right.
But I was so touched by their show of gratefulness, and as I reflected on the moment later in the day, my heart warmed. I also was reminded of what Jesus once told his disciples when they asked who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
“And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, ‘Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’” (Matthew 18:2-3, ESV)
I have heard many applications and thoughts on what it means to be “like children” that we may enter the kingdom of God. But this experience with the Braxton children showed me so vividly at least one example of how becoming child-like could lead us into God’s kingdom: Children love so freely. They don’t stop to think how the love will be received, or whether or not they will be loved in return. Children just love.
I feel like I can be kind of stingy with my love. I don’t often show love to people unless I’m fairly certain that it will be appreciated or reciprocated. And even then I wouldn’t say that I often overwhelm them with loving actions or words like N and Z did for me. But isn’t that what Jesus did? Any story I’ve ever read in the Bible about Jesus, he was freely giving love to everyone he came into contact with—whether they would thank him and love him back or not.
So, I want to challenge you (and myself): Love more freely. React with love to the people God places in your path, whoever they might be and no matter what their reactions might be. Love freely and indiscriminately.