It was a magical night with lights and costumes and music downtown in the capital of my small home-state Delaware. I sang some songs and children danced under the October moonlight. It was a spirit of whimsy, made of the same stuff as fairy-tales. After singing, I was over at my CD table meeting all the little girls aglow. I’ll call her “Cowgirl”- she caught my eye and I recognized her from the time I sang at her church. She was dressed in her boots, vest, and big western hat, looking so innocent…but underneath that little smile was something so much greater and more profound than any passerby could imagine. There she stood patiently, not yet seven years old, but with a soul exhibiting perhaps more faith than mine at 27. She waited for the other sweet girls to get pictures and talk. When it was her turn, she told me quite matter-of-factly with her endearing little grin, “Caitlin Jane, I pray for you every night, twice a night. Once before dinner and once before bed.” That’s all I needed to melt my heart. Yes, that’s all I needed to call to mind reminders of God’s promises and therefore have hope (Lamentations 3:21-22). Cowgirl gave me more than one hug, and I carry those hugs with me even now…
It was the day right before I met Cowgirl that I was gifted with an unexpected blessing from the elementary/high school where I graduated, Wilmington Christian. They had a jeans and t-shirt day fundraiser for #CaitlinJaneBrain where the students could pay $2 to wear jeans and t-shirts instead of their uniforms. What child or teen doesn’t want to dress down for a day? I remember planning these very same fundraisers for other causes when I was in school…but how incredibly humbling and beautiful to be the recipient of such love and grace now during my time of need! This beyond-kindness was extraordinary to me, for it has been almost a decade since I graduated from there. My niece, “Little C,” is in kindergarten there now and came home the day before the fundraiser announcing to her family, “Everyone is bringing in $1 for jeans and $1 for a t-shirt tomorrow to help Cait’s head!” In response, her 3-year-old brother, never without a twinkle in his eye, responded, “No they aren’t! Cait’s head is just fine!” (All right, I’ll give him that…my head does look perfectly normal these days…it’s funny how even adults try to “see” the brain tumor when they look at me, and they say in shock, “Um, well, you look great! I can’t even tell!”) Little C’s compassionate heart is always beating boldly, challenging my heart to take greater leaps of faith and to see the world through Jesus’ eyes. When she got dressed for school on jeans/t-shirt day, she was eager to put her personal $2 into her backpack to help her Auntie…Yes, my 5-year-old niece was so willing to sacrifice her worldly riches to help my brain surgery. This is the same girl who cried at 3-years-old, desperate to sponsor another little girl in Indonesia who lives in poverty (and Little C is now “planning” her someday trip to visit her sponsor girl “by boat or train”!)
The faith of Little C is the same faith exhibited in Cowgirl. They’ve found it- they’ve found the treasure of the Kingdom and they grasp it in a way that so many of us adults sadly have let go…I often lose my grasp and have to amble along to find it again- find the Lord’s hand reaching out to grab my hand and carry me to the Kingdom treasure that is right here and right now, the treasure of holding onto Jesus (Matthew 13:44). How is it that I often have to learn the greatest lessons by looking to the littlest ones? It’s the beautiful paradox of the Kingdom of God that astound us…and His call to become like children is no less astounding than the rest of Jesus’ teachings. When I look at Cowgirl, I am reminded of the power of prayer. She lives out James 5:15-16. She offers prayer in faith to make the sick well. If “the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective,” how much more powerful is the prayer of a child? When I look at Little C, I am reminded of the power of giving, even when it is only a widow’s two very small copper coins…or a young child’s simple two dollars (Mark 12:38-44). It may be insignificant in the eyes of the world, but in the eyes of our Heavenly Father, it is vastly extravagant and carries eternal weight. For our Mighty God, Creator & Provider, can take even our smallest offering from the heart and multiply it in ways we cannot imagine. This is the God who took just five loaves and two fish to feed five thousand and left his disciples with twelve baskets of delicious leftovers! (Matthew 14:13-21)
How do we step into the Kingdom- Jesus’ Kingdom-come and will be done? I believe one of the greatest secrets we can unlock of the Kingdom is found in Matthew 18:1-4: “About that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?’ Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, ‘I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.'”
I want to learn from Cowgirl and Little C, and step into the Kingdom treasures for which my heart was made to find this week.
Dear Lord, help me learn to pray.
Dear Lord, help me learn to give.
Dear Lord, help me learn to believe.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.