Friday, October 16, 2009
My oldest grandson, Gabriel, and I have always had a special bond. I loved him the moment he opened his beautiful blue eyes and looked up at me as if he had always known me. He was a peaceful, sweet baby. He loved to snuggle up with me when I laid down to nap with him and his smile was almost a permanent fixture. When he started walking, he followed me everywhere I went. When he started talking, he told me about every toy he played with, every cartoon he watched on television and asked a dozen questions about everything. I didn't mind. He was my little companion--my little friend--my little joy bundle.
When his brother, Michael, was born, Gabe stayed with me while his mother was in the hospital. We went everywhere and did everything together. I revelled in the sound of his laughter and spent hours watching him sleep. He was so precious---he still is.
As a toddler, Gabe asked a hundred questions about God. It was almost as if he hungered after everything I could tell him. When I would say "Hallelujah" during my personal praise and worship, Gabe would throw up a hand and say "Hall-u-jah" and clap his little hands until I joined in and clapped, too.
At age four, I found him staring at a crucifix I had hanging in my foyer. He got a chair, climbed up and looked right into the face of the scuplture of Jesus on the cross. I just watched him and didn't say anything at first. I waited for his questions. The first question was, "Is that Jesus?". I told him yes. His next question was , "What's He doing?". I explained that Jesus loved us so much that He took all of our sins and went to the cross. I told him, in very simple terms, what sin was and how it took us away from God. I described, as best I could, how very much Jesus loved us. I was totally unprepared for what happened next. As he stared at the crucifix, he whispered, "I love you, Jesus.". He then looked at me and said, "Jesus really loves me, Gigi" (this is what he has always called me. Gigi, pronounced with a hard "G"). I could not hold back the tears as I hugged Gabe tight and said, "Yes, Gabe. Jesus really loves you.".
A few days later my father came to my house while Gabe was visiting. Gabe got the chair again, climbed up and proceeded to tell my father the story of Jesus. My father, the wonderful man of God, had tears in his eyes by the time Gabe was done. I could not believe how much Gabriel loved telling the story of Jeus.
Recently, I was reminded again of Gabe's deep love for God. I had taken the boys to church with me and, after driving them home, decided I would join them and their parents at the neighborhood park near their home. We had a lovely time. We fed the ducks, the boys played in the creek and we enjoyed a simple lunch of sandwiches and chips. After lunch, I was enjoying the fall beauty of the park when I heard Gabe call to me, "Gigi, come look at this. It's really important.". When I saw Gabe, he was standing in the sandbox and was waving for me to come to him. As I walked toward him, he had that gorgeous smile on his face. "Look what I wrote," he said. I looked down in the sand and read the following, "Id dy 4 God.". I had to read it twice before it registered in my mind. As I read, Gabe just stood there and smiled. He was proud of what he had written. Tears filled my eyes. "Id dy 4 God.". I looked down at the face I loved so well, stroked his cheek and stared into those beautiful blue eyes. "You really mean that don't you?" I asked. "Uh huh. I sure do." was his quick reply. I hugged him tight and told him how proud of him I was. It was one of the most precious moments of my life.
The picture above is the message Gabe wrote in the sand. A message that should challenge us all to love God with all our hearts, souls, and minds. How much do we love Him? He loved us enough to send His son. He loved us enough to forgive all of the sins of our weak humanity. He loves us just because. I pray that I find the conviction of a seven-year-old boy---a love that says, "I'd rather die for God than live without Him.". I pray that when my faith grows weak, I remember the message in the sand. Gabe's message---"Id dy 4 God.". Me too, Gabe---me too.