The little girl’s blond hair flips and flops as she runs around the park. Anyone observing would see a happy child who loves the outdoors, playing after school with her sister and nanny.
I watch her shoot down the slide and sway on the swing. I love that she’s smiling – even if for this moment – she’s decided that life is good…normal. I am undone when she and her sister present me with a bouquet of flowers, freshly picked from the playground’s lawn.
Her sister is just as sweet. We swing side by side, discussing frozen yogurt flavors and toppings. Turns out we both love cake batter with a variety of toppings.
But, I know.
I know that in August this little nine-year-old gal lost her momma to breast cancer. I know her smiles can quickly become frowns. I know she loves her daddy but misses her mommy.
She also has two sisters, five and three, living in this nightmare. Little girls should never sit in the funeral home as their mommy lays unmoving – gone – in a casket.
I listen as her nanny gives the 10-minute warning…girls, we’re leaving soon. She turns to me and says that meltdowns can be avoided with such warnings. The nanny’s in her early 20s; she picks these little gals up from school daily and takes them for ice cream or to the playground – or both. She showers them with kisses, hugs, and words of love and affirmation. She disciplines when necessary, but loves always.
And, I am reminded that only God…only God could orchestrate this meeting of lonely little girls with a sweet college student who’s endured her share of pain and suffering too.
It’s a match made in heaven. Literally.
I don’t know the whole story. I only know part of the nanny’s story. I’ve only spent a few hours with the three little gals who lost their momma to cancer. But as I watch her swing the blond-haired sister from the monkey bars, I see God’s hand.
I see how He matched hurting hearts. How He joined the hurting to create space for healing.
How He prepared one hurting heart to understand the depth of another hurting heart.
And isn’t that what God does? Shows up on the most unexpected days in the most unexpected ways to love His children.
We are truly a gift to one another if only we see each other through HIS eyes.
I thought of God’s divine provision for three little gals who miss their momma and for an older gal who doesn’t understand her own.
I am reminded of Ruth and Naomi. Of Rahab. Of Miriam and Pharaoh’s daughter. Of Jonathan and David.
From the beginning of time, God has given us one another.
Friends. Family. Baby sitters. Sunday School teachers. Pastors. Small Group members. Teachers.
But, most of all, He’s given us Himself.
And, I often forget this. I am always thankful to Him for those he’s placed in my life. I look to Him and whisper thank you each time I see His divine hand in my relationships and the relationships of others. But, in the midst of noticing, embracing, and loving all those who surround me, I often forget…
Jesus is my friend. Sure, He gives friends – intertwines the lives of three little gals with an amazing nanny – but He gives us Himself too…
12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other. John 15: 12-17
The command is clear: Love one another. Lay down your life for your friends. But, the next part is the part I often forget to embrace: I have called you friends.
We didn’t choose Him as we choose other friends; He chose us. He chose you to be his friend, sister. When you’re alone or with your best friend. When your chasing sweet little gals in the park or walking alone alongside a stream.
He is there. He is your friend. Your relationships and connections viewed in the context of His story make them all the better and fruitful.
In fact, our story only makes sense and only matters within the context of HIS story. When we can see His divine hand at work for His glory and purposes.
I pray you are recognizing those He’s given to you…I pray you show His love to them. But, most of all, I pray you remember that He’s your first friend. The only One to whom you can and should always run.
Be thankful for those God’s given to walk alongside you, but give utmost gratitude to the ONE who is always there, waiting…loving…listening…forgiving.