Thursday, April 21, 2011

little heart, BIG love

Last Sunday Travis and I experienced something I really pray we never will have to again: a child's funeral. A family from our church & school lost their 3 year old son on Monday of this past week. Tragic does not even begin to describe it.

We had the privilege of having his older sister, Emma, in our Sunday School class all of last year while she was in my mom's kindergarten class. Her little bro would run in to pick her up, pulling at her arms to come with him. She was his playmate, his pal. While we didn't have a personal relationship with Scotty, we knew his mom and his big sister.

All last week emotions stirred in me. Why does this happen? How can you, God, let this happen? He was three! Only three! He didn't have a terminal illness, there was no trauma or no medical history. In fact, the autopsy was inconclusive. There is no medical reason yet why he died so suddenly one Monday morning. On Saturday night friends gathered around the Hardeman's table. My friend Ashley was talking about this book called Heaven is for Real. Another friend brought up a good point, one that had been bouncing around in my head. " We know where we are going when we die, we know we are saved. Yet, why do we fear death so much?"

Sometimes I think it's because we know what we want to do with our lives. Where we want to go. How long we want to live. To us, it makes sense for someone to pass away at 89 but 3, that's just not the right age. Yet, here we go being humans again. Here we are trying to write our own purpose, our own timeline. But it has already been written for us. I couldn't understand why God let something like this happen. Than we went to Scotty's funeral and I caught a glimpse at how God works.

I started crying the minute we walked in the doors of our church and saw his little Tonka dump truck, sand bucket, and construction hat on the steps leading up to the alter. Mounted all over were pictures of a smiling little blonde, blue eyed boy who was full of life. One particular picture had him dressed as an angel standing over a manger with a babe in it. More tears. His parents walked the casket in. Emma led the way, head held high and so brave. Caskets should not be made that small. No parent should ever have to bury their child. Another thing that just was not right. His service was beautiful. It opened with his family's favorite worship songs. Following those  two teachers from the pre school read letters that every teacher who had had him in class wrote about him. This is where I began to see how cool God is. This is where I saw how he works in the smallest of way. This is when I saw how He decides our purpose.

For every one of those letters read talked about Scotty's hugs, his love, his smiles, and his kind heart. I began noticing that I haven't ever met someone so small who understood "loving  thy neighbor" as he did. In his short little life he got it. He got that Jesus loved him and so he showed others Christ's love every single day. He greeted everyone he saw with a hug. He smiled. All the time. In fact they mentioned it was contagious and that he was so polite, so caring, so kind. Love overflowed out of him. Jesus overflowed out of him and it affected people around him. They noticed. They saw something different about this little blonde, blue eyed boy. Their final letter was from the janitor, "Mr. Juan" as he called him. Mr. Juan wrote that every single morning he was greeted with a big hug and a warm smile from Scotty. He said most people ignore him but Scotty made him feel like somebody. Scotty made him feel special. Important. Worth something. Scotty would yell from across playgrounds, gyms, and rooms, " Hi Mr. Juan", changing his day. He said there were days when the weight of the world made him feel like nothing, where he was down and in dark places. Than Scotty would appear. Scotty was a light in the dark places for Mr. Juan. On his last day here on earth Mr. Juan was greeted with one of his famous hugs. But this time Scotty did something different. He laid his head on Mr. Juan's shoulder and whispered, " I love you, Mr. Juan." With a squeeze he took off. Mr. Juan said it felt like he was saying goodbye but I love you always. He said Scotty may have been small but he left huge footprints in his heart. Each person who spoke referred to Scotty as their angel.

Trav and I were remembering the day Scotty, his mom, and Emma were baptized. When it was his turn he walked up to the font, was lifted up, he grabbed ahold of each side and charged his head forward as if to say, " Let's do this. I'm ready." Scotty told his friends at school that following week that he was God's child. That Jesus loved him and each of them. More footprints he left behind.

While to us, death at a young age seems wrong. Not right. Unfair. I could go on and on. But there is no right age. The only thing is our purpose, the reason we are here. We were meant to love, to live a life that is centered around God. To share His love. To be Him to those we meet not matter who they are. To find joy in everything. To be excited about being His child, about loving each other as He loved us. I'm almost 26 years old and I am still figuring it out. Here was a 3 year old who just got it. I want to be like that. I want to be like Scotty where love radiates out of me. When Jesus overflows from me. Where I find joy in everything. 

The preschool led all of us in singing his favorite songs. Through tears, the whole congregation joined in. The last song they also showed  video of him singing it and at the end he said, " I love YOU" to his dad. Such a simple song but he did indeed have a little heart with a great BIG love for Jesus!

My Little Heart
My little heart has a great big love
A great big love for Jesus
My little heart has a great big love
A great big love for Jesus
I heard him knock, I let him in
Now my little heart has a great big love
A great big love.....for Jesus!

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