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"Well, Erin, it looks like you'll need an updated prescription for your glasses," the optometrist said as Erin got out of the chair at the eye doctor's office.
Erin found her mom in the waiting room. "New glasses again!" she announced.
"Well, let's look around the store to see if we can find some frames you like," Mom suggested.
As Erin tried on various colors and styles of glasses, she talked with Mom about school. "It feels like everything is going wrong. I have two tests tomorrow, and I'm struggling in those classes. My favorite teacher has been home sick all week, and one of my friends broke her arm during gym class! I know God is in control of all that happens and I should trust Him, but it's hard when nothing is going well."
"I'm sorry all these things are happening at once." Mom put a hand on her shoulder. "The world is chaotic." She thought for a moment. "Do you remember what it was like before you got your first pair of glasses?"
"Oh yeah," Erin laughed. "Everything was so blurry. I could only see a few feet in front of me."
"Life can be a bit like that," Mom said. "The world can feel blurry and confusing. Just imagine how confused Jesus's followers were when He died on the cross! But Jesus had a bigger plan--to die and take the punishment for our sin and bring new life through His resurrection three days later. We can't always see how God is working today, but we can keep our eyes focused on Jesus and trust Him."
Erin understood. "Because He doesn't just see the present. It's like He sees through different glasses than us, where He can see the whole world--past, present, and future."
Mom smiled. "Exactly! And God can use challenging things to teach us to trust Him. When our plans don't work out, we need to remember that He has a bigger plan in mind--one that ends with Jesus getting rid of sin and death forever. We may not understand now, but one day, we will see how God worked everything for good."
Erin nodded. "So I can trust Jesus and focus on Him even when I don't understand what's happening." She hugged her mom. "Thanks."
Sara and Mom left church and headed out to Uncle Dan and Aunt Susan's farm for lunch. Sara couldn't wait to meet her cousin's new pygmy goats!
On the way, Mom asked Sara what her Sunday school class had discussed that morning.
"We talked about worship," Sara said. "Mrs. Taylor told us that God created us to worship Him. We worship when we go to church, right?"
Before Mom could answer, they'd arrived. Sara's cousin Charlie ran to the car. "Come meet Max and Mavis!" He grabbed Sara's hand and led her inside a fenced area next to the barn. "Sit still and they might come over," Charlie said. He sat next to Sara on the grass.
The two small goats jumped in the air, ran around the yard, and butted heads in a play battle. At first, they ignored the cousins, but eventually Mavis came close enough for Sara to stroke her back. Then she went off to climb a wooden platform.
"They're so cute," Sara told Charlie.
"Yeah," agreed Charlie. "I love it when they come over and let me pet them. I just wish they did that more often!" He grinned. "Don't they know I feed them, fill their water dish, and clean up their messes?" They laughed. Charlie sounded like a parent.
On the way home, Mom brought up the topic of worship. "I think God feels a little like Charlie does with his goats," she said.
"What do you mean?" asked Sara.
"Charlie cares for his goats. He makes sure they have everything they need, and he loves it when they come to him. It's similar to us as Christians. We're God's children. He loves us and provides for us, and He wants us to enjoy being in His presence every day."
"I guess worshiping God only on Sundays is kind of like Mavis only letting me pet her for two seconds," said Sara.
Mom nodded. "Worship is something we do at church, but it can also be anything we do with an awareness of Jesus's love and presence and a desire to serve Him. That's where we find true joy."
"Maybe we could read the Bible together before bed," suggested Sara.
Mom nodded. "That's a great way to spend time with God!"
"Can I go to the store with you, Mom?" Isaac asked. "I want to make sure you get my favorite cereal!" Mom laughed and agreed.
Shortly after arriving at the store, they met Carson, one of Isaac's classmates. "Hey, Isaac, thanks for shoveling my grandma's sidewalk when I didn't feel good yesterday," said Carson. "And thanks for helping me with my math homework too! Guess what I got on our test today? An A minus!"
"All right!" said Isaac. "How did your basketball game go?"
"Much better," said Carson. "Ever since you stood up for me when I missed all those free throws the other day, the guys haven't given me a rough time at all." He turned to go. "Oh! Mom says I can go to Bible club with you this week."
"Great!" exclaimed Isaac. "I think you'll like it."
"I'm sure I will if it's as good as you say," replied Carson, turning to leave. "See ya."
"Wow! I'm surprised," Isaac told his mom as they went down another aisle. "Carson wasn't interested in going to Bible club at all when I invited him. I wonder why he changed his mind."
Just then, they came to the place where a woman was handing out ice cream samples. "Yum!" Isaac exclaimed, taking a bite of the sample she handed him. "Let's get some of this ice cream, Mom."
"It looks good," Mom said. "Choose a flavor, and then we'll be ready to go."
"How can the store afford to give away so much ice cream?" Isaac asked as he debated which kind he wanted. "Look at all those kids coming to get samples now."
"Well, as you just proved, the samples make people want to buy the product, so the store will sell lots of ice cream today," Mom explained as Isaac decided on double chocolate. "You know," Mom added as she placed the carton in her grocery cart, "this reminds me of you. You've been a sample for Jesus."
"What do you mean?" Isaac asked.
"Carson was obviously impressed with the way you treated him," said Mom. "You've given him a taste of what it means to know Jesus, and now Carson wants to know more."
"A taste of life with Jesus," said Isaac. "That's even better than ice cream!"
The Everlasting Word
As Tarun scrolled on his tablet, he suddenly stopped and grinned at his sister. "Hey, Amita, what are your thoughts on antidisestablishmentarianism?"
"Um…what?" His sister stared at him. "I have no idea what you just said."
"Actually, I'm not sure what that word means either," said Tarun. "But I'm looking at this website that talks about really long words, and it says antidisestablishmentarianism is the longest word in the English language--except for technical words used only in math or science. Some of those are even longer! The longest word ever is the chemical name methionylthreonylthreon--"
"Stop!" Amita slapped her hands over her ears. "I don't want to hear any more!"
Tarun laughed. "You think that's bad? I barely even started to say it! If I said the whole thing, it would take over three hours!"
"What?" cried Amita. "Who would even say a word like that? It would take forever!"
"Well, not forever," said her brother. "Just three hours."
"Just?" Amita shook her head. "When it comes to saying words, that is forever! Compared to that, anti…antidish…that other really long word you said is nothing!"
Dad smiled at the kids from across the room. "You know," he said, "there actually is a Word that lasts forever."
Both kids' eyes widened. "There is?" said Tarun.
Dad nodded. "Yes, and He is everlasting. I'm talking about Jesus, the Word of God."
"Wait," said Amina. "I thought the Bible was the Word of God."
"The Bible is God's Word, yes," Dad replied. "It reveals God's truth, law, and purpose to us. It tells us who God is and how much He loves us. But in the New Testament, Jesus is called the Word because He reveals God to us in human form. He is God and has always existed, but He took on human form and came to earth to teach us God's truth and fulfill His law on our behalf because we couldn't live up to it ourselves. He showed us God's love by dying for our sins and coming back to life, and He is working out His greater purpose through all those who trust in Him. He reveals who God is because He is God in the flesh--and He will reign for all eternity! He is the everlasting Word."
"David, your mom is waiting for you."
David started at the sound of Tía Gloria's voice. "Where?"
"At the playground," she answered kindly.
David hurried down the stairs that led up to the home he had known for almost a whole year. He was one of thirty children who lived in the albergue in Lima, Peru, that served as a refuge for children who needed protection.
He looked around. Nearby on a bench, watching a toddler play, was a young woman, who was apparently expecting another child soon.
"Mamá!" David ran to her and gave her a big hug.
She hugged him tight. "David, you've grown so much. Tell me what you've been doing. What have you been learning at school? Are you happy here?"
David soon was talking and smiling, telling his mom about his classes, his friends, and the fun activities he got to do with his albergue family. He played with his little brother and held him. But, after a while, his mom got up, put her bag on her shoulder, and took the toddler's hand. "It's time for me to go," she said.
Pain struck through David's heart. He threw his arms around her. "When can I go back with you?" he asked, fighting tears.
David's mother had a sad look on her face. It was too hard to explain her situation to her little boy. That the safest place for him was there. That she needed a safe place too.
As the door closed behind her, David turned and ran. Tía Gloria found him behind one of the slides.
"David," she said gently, "it's not that your mom doesn't love you. But she needs help too and can't take care of you in the way she wants to right now. But you've been learning about a strong Father who is always there for His children. He's with you, even if others can't be. Who is that?"
"God," David answered, looking up through his tears.
"That's right. God is our refuge--our place of help and comfort. Jesus understands the hurt you're feeling because He experienced the pain of our broken world too when He came to save us. Would you like us to pray to Him right now?"
David nodded. "Yes. And let's pray that He will help my mom too."
"Hey, did you guys hear the one about the man with a wooden leg?" Mitch asked when some of his friends were over. He proceeded to tell a joke he'd overheard at school--a bad one he knew he shouldn't repeat, but he wanted to impress his friends. They thought it was hilarious. As they roared with laughter, Mitch's dad walked past the room. Oh no! Mitch thought when he saw Dad frown. I hope Dad didn't hear that joke!
After his friends left, Mitch wandered into the kitchen. "Hey!" he yelled, staring in horror at a poster he was working on for history class. It was on the table, and his little sister had colored green mustaches on the faces he had carefully drawn. When Teagan saw Mitch looking at it, she started to giggle.
"It's not funny!" Mitch roared, but Teagan kept on laughing. Dad came to see what the trouble was. "Dad, look what Teagan did! And she thinks it's funny!"
Dad immediately sent Teagan to her room. "Teagan doesn't realize how important that poster is to you," Dad said. "She thinks green mustaches are a good joke."
Mitch scowled. "Well, I don't! I'm going to have to redo the whole thing."
"I'm sorry, Mitch. But maybe you can learn something from this." Dad leaned against the countertop. "I'm wondering if you sometimes laugh at things that aren't funny. I didn't clearly hear the joke your friends found so funny, but I noticed you looked embarrassed when you saw me." Mitch blushed, but he was relieved his dad hadn't heard the whole joke.
"You know it's wrong to laugh at someone because of the way they look or talk or because they're unable to do something," Dad continued. "Whenever you laugh at something that's hurtful or wrong, or when you make fun of something that's private, it's sort of like painting green mustaches on things God has made. If you're as childish as Teagan, you might think it's funny. But how do you think Jesus feels about it? Does He think it's funny to laugh at sin or make fun of people He died on the cross for?"
"No," Mitch said quietly.
"God has given us so many good things to laugh about," Dad said. "Let's thank Him for that and be satisfied with them."
-Jessica Van Dessel
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