Perfection, and Not – Ephesians 2:4-7

Real children don’t always behave well, not like the cherished doll that adorned my bed. Real children come to us bringing messes, noises, and cries of protest. Not Priscilla. I bought her at a church bazaar with my babysitting money, after years of yearning for one of Mrs. Dillon’s dolls. Priscilla’s job was to spend the day exactly as I’d arranged her, propped against my pillow; pleasant, quiet, and clean. I came home from school to find she’d performed these duties flawlessly.

child dirty. free. rrsilvestre1. pixabay

Real people

My son stopped by briefly with his wife and children yesterday. While he was talking with my husband, I leaned against the van door to chat with his wife, their three sons, and their foster son.

The kids were loud and a bit disobedient. They’d just come from a BBQ and wore remnants of a meal on their faces. I couldn’t resist their hugs and updates on their day. Even my new little foster grandson called me grandma, not resting till I’d grabbed his hand and given him my attention.

My doll never did that.

Priscilla’s disguise

I didn’t discover my doll’s ruse until this week, when I remembered she wasn’t actually what she appeared to be. Priscilla was fashioned to look like a rag doll, but she was actually handcrafted from new materials. No rags, or anything second-hand, was used in her creation.

She was also a false friend. Her lips were stitched into a pleasant smile, but she couldn’t truly care about me, not like the little boys who reached for me from the back seat.

Free to love and be loved

That Christmas, my Sunday School class volunteered to provide a neighborhood family with Christmas gifts, and I donated Priscilla. It was truly a sacrificial gift, and sometimes I wish I’d kept her. It was better, though, to give her up to fulfill her purpose, bringing joy to a child in need.

In some ways I’m much like Priscilla. I am loved, cherished and protected, yet working in disorderly, noisy, uncomfortable places in order to share God’s love.

“. . . because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-7 NIV).

Some day I will see I’ve been sitting next to Jesus all along.

by Kathy Sheldon Davis

I Don’t Love Her – Matthew 22:34-40

One of life’s sweetest blessings is when my grandchildren holler “GRAN – MAAAAA!” and come running to greet me. They haven’t knocked me down yet, but their exuberance is certainly felt. One Sunday after church, however, I wasn’t too happy about my grandson’s behavior.

brothers loving. lonnieBradley .freeImages

He’d been playing near the bleachers at the back of the gym, and I caught him making a mean, ugly face to a little girl. Appalled, I drew him aside. “Jackson, why did you do that?”

With his innocent dark eyes peering deep into mine he simply explained, “I do not love her.”

While I appreciated his openness, in my mind I pulled out my grandma to-do list and added, Teach grandchildren what Jesus said about love.

What Jesus said

My grandchildren’s greetings prove they know I love them and find me easy to love back. But what if loving isn’t always so easy?

Jesus said,“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:34-40 NIV).

The fact that we were commanded to love God inherently shows that it doesn’t come naturally, we get to choose to love him. Thirty-nine years ago my husband pursued a relationship with me, and I chose to respond. Love grew from our choices.

Doing love

I used to think it sounded arrogant for God to say, “You must love me,” and yet, because he is the Creator and Love itself, it’s perfectly reasonable. Without love, we’re nothing (see 1 John 4:8 and 1 Corinthians 13).

My grandson has gained more experience in practicing love—not only as a brother to his siblings, but now as an older foster brother to a rambunctious little guy. Like all of us, he’s learning that love involves challenges, and that’s OK. Without having to work at it, our love would only be an expression of feelings that come and go like the wind.

We need to remember demonstrating love doesn’t always bring immediate happiness, but its rewards are worth the investment. And ultimately, loving others helps us understand God’s enduring love for us. We can all be a little challenging sometimes, don’t you think?

Don’t ask my husband.

by Kathy Davis

The Day I Became Different – 2 Corinthians 5:17-18

Arriving home from school and smelling like kid sweat and playground dust, I rushed to lay my papers on the table before the screen slammed shut, but failed. I slumped with disappointment that I didn’t win, but knew I’d try again tomorrow.

child-serious .ibrahim62 free. pixabayI hugged Mom, and she sized me up. I was sure she could tell I’d dilly-dallied on my way home, so before she could say anything, I blurted out, “I was at Mrs. Best’s house.”

I don’t recall who first introduced me to Mrs. Best more than 50 years ago. I do remember the poster board materials she used, some for telling Bible stories and others to help us get through the songs. The treats, and the goodie box full of prizes for us to choose from when we recited the scripture verse. Oh, fun! No wonder so many kids filled her living room.

I looked like I did every day after school, with my sagging pony tail and the mussed line of bangs above my eyebrows. My dress felt tight, twisted around my torso from twirling over the bar at recess, but Mom seemed to notice something else was different about her little girl.

Since I understood sometimes I chose to do wrong and couldn’t change my heart on my own, I found myself reaching out to God at Mrs. Best’s. I told Mom I’d prayed to ask Jesus into my heart.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself . . .” (2 Corinthians 5:17-18a ESV).

In my innocence I didn’t know how to relate the experience to her, other than that  “I felt Jesus all over me.” I wonder how many others want to thank Mrs. Best for her efforts.

I’d sure like to.

by Kathy Sheldon Davis