Avery’s elementary school hosted a Grandparents Day recently, and her Grandpa was able to arrange his day to be there. Avery was pleased. And her proud grandfather was looking forward to sharing a special event.
Things ran about as you would have expected. With all the grandparents seated in the bleachers, boys and girls began parading onto the gym floor. Various classes were introduced. People were thanked for helping. And the children were given permission to go sit with their special guests.
As Avery went to her beaming Grandpa’s side for a hug, a beautiful smile practically covered her face. But she looked back over her shoulder at the only child in her class who had not left the gym floor to scale the bleachers. Joshua was standing there all alone and looking sad.
“Grandpa,” Avery said, “Joshua’s grandparents are all dead. So he doesn’t have anybody to be with today. Can he come and sit with us?”
“Why, of course he can, sweetheart,” came the reply. “It would be great to have him join us.” He did. And three people had a great time together.
I only wish you could have seen his face as Avery’s grandfather told me the story. He was so proud of his granddaughter for her sensitive spirit and kind treatment of her friend. He teared up a bit as he told me what had happened. I knew immediately that I had heard a story that needed to be shared.
Jesus once reminded his disciples that they needed to become like little children in order to enter the Kingdom of God. If you’ve ever wondered what he had in mind with that statement, just picture Avery’s compassionate treatment of Joshua. See her giggling, playing patty-cake with her Grandpa, and sharing his presence with Joshua. No jealousy. No selfishness. There was enough human kindness and laughter to go around for everyone that day.
Maybe she will keep that spirit for the rest of her life. But I can guarantee there will be events, people, and circumstances to tempt her to change. Somebody will try to convince her she has no responsibility to anybody but herself. And there will be times of scarcity when her own heart will tempt her to be selfish with something under her control that another person needs. May she rise to the occasion – as she did on Grandparents Day with Joshua.
There will be somebody in my world today who needs an Avery. Since she will be at school, I will try to remember the lesson she taught me and imitate her. You just might run across a similar person in the course of your day too.
“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven”Matthew 18:3
Rubel Shelly (Ph.D., philosophy / Vanderbilt University) has spent his adult life in Christ-focused ministry through preaching, teaching at both graduate and undergraduate levels, and writing. His commitment is to a non-sectarian presentation of the gospel.