Gratitude Day 233

Mon., Mar. 18, 2019

John 19:19 – Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.

A little boy stole my heart yesterday. His name is Daniel. This is his story.

A year ago, I helped fill in at an ECLA Lutheran church while they were between pastors. For several months, I lead worship at this church a few times a month. I started filling in right about the time Lent began. During the children’s message one week, I shared with the kids some little wooden crosses made out of olive wood. We talked about how Jesus died on a cross because Jesus loves each one of us so very, very much.

wooden cross

We also talked about how these crosses were extra-special. They came from Bethlehem, the village where Jesus was born. In this one little piece of wood, we have something that connects the beginning of Jesus’ life in Bethlehem, with the last day of his life when he died. I hoped these little crosses would help the kids remember just how much Jesus loved them.

Fast forward to yesterday. Now, I fill in as a musician at this church a couple times a month. Yesterday happened to be one of those Sundays I played. After worship, Daniel and his Dad, Robert, came over by me. Right away, I noticed that Daniel was wearing the little wooden cross from a year ago. He was SO PROUD to show me his cross. While cleaning his room this week, Daniel found the cross. He remembered where it came from and that he had received it from me. With a little help, Daniel had strung a piece of thread through the tiny hole in the cross and wore it to church yesterday. Daniel thought I would like to see his cross.

Did I want to see his cross? YOU BET!! Even more impressive? Daniel remembered that the cross had come from the town of Bethlehem, where Jesus was born. And that he received it about a year ago.

Folks … can I just be honest for a minute? Little people like Daniel? They remind me the value of sharing Christ’s story. Daniel took a story that we explored over a year ago, connected it to and came back so we could relive the moment. And in the process, this little guy, wearing his little wooden cross hung around his neck with a thin strand of black thread, ministered to the pastor/musician.

I know Daniel is young, maybe 6-years-old or so. I know Daniel is an exceptional kid who soaks up everything and sees the meaning of things well beyond his years. He knows how and loves to have real conversations with people way outside of his age level.

He is also a reason why I have hope. When I see a little person like this grasp onto something faith-based and make it all their own, I know this seed has been planted into this little person’s heart and soul. It’s a seed that can be water and nurtured. In years to come, this seed can blossom and do amazing things. Little people like Daniel who have seeds of faith inside of them will take those seeds and turn them into acts of kindness where they bless other people. They will make decisions that affect people in a positive way. They will decide to be the hands and feet of Christ, just like he was the voice of Christ to me yesterday.

If you are a parent, Christian, a Christian Education teacher, a school teacher, a grandparent, a pastor … are there times when you wonder, “Why am I doing this? Does what I do make any difference?” Let me reiterate yes, what you do makes a difference. Every once in a while, a little person like Daniel will surprise you. He or she will acknowledge some little thing you helped them with made a difference in their live. In the process of sharing this back to you, they make a difference in your life.

I know there will be future days when Daniel will be less innocent about his faith and even struggle with who God is. I know that Daniel is a little boy and sometimes, yes, even he, drives his parents a little crazy. I know there will be choices that Daniel will make that someday, he wishes he would have chosen differently.

But for today, he sees that cross and know that Jesus loves him. And for today, this is enough.

Just to seal the deal on stealing my heart yesterday, Daniel did one more thing. Daniel wants to learn to play guitar. He brought his Dad’s old guitar to church yesterday. One of the other musicians, Mike, started showing him a few things about playing his guitar.

I also play guitar, well, kind of. Years ago, I took about four guitar lessons so I could learn just enough chords to play in church. Daniel looked so handsome with his Dad’s red guitar strapped around his neck. He stood there, pick in hand, and his little wooden cross hanging around his neck, just waiting for Mike to show him what to do next. I wished that I had taken a picture of this precious sight. Unfortunately, I didn’t. Instead, I snapped this photo of a similar wooden cross that Hubby Rick has hanging on his desk, a cross also from Bethlehem.

It’s Lent. It’s the time of year when we are encouraged to take extra time and reflect upon who Jesus is, why he came to this earth and what difference this makes in our lives today. Yesterday, little Daniel had it figured out. And his actions and enthusiasm stole my heart.

I pray the rest of us can somehow live up to his example.

For little people reteaching me valuable lessons, I am grateful.

Lord Jesus – sometimes, we make faith so complicated and difficult. We spend too much time looking for ways faith separates us rather than coming back to the very core of the gospel: that God loves us enough to send Jesus to this earth for our benefit. I pay we never completely loose our child-like approach to faith. May we be inspired by little people like Daniel who know showing up with an open heart is all it takes. Amen.

Blessings –


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