An Unexpected Gift of Grace
A devotional by Karen Marstaller
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”—Matthew 19:14 (NIV)
He was just a little guy, but he sure made a lasting impression. Dressed in slim jeans, cowboy boots and hat, a tucked-in T-shirt, and a belt, he was in front of me to get his ice from the drink dispenser. I thought he was finished and started to fill my glass when I noticed he was waiting.
“Am I in your way?” I asked.
“Oh, no, ma’am,” he said with a boyish grin.
After filling my cup, I sat down on a bench to wait for our take-out order at our favorite chicken salad restaurant. Suddenly, he stood in front of me. Straight and lean, he looked me in the eye and gave me a beautiful smile. Then he did something I haven’t seen in a very long time. He took off his hat, held it several inches above his head and nodded at me before smiling again. This young man waited until I acknowledged his old-fashioned greeting, then he darted over to his family.
My granddaughter, my husband, and I saw them again as we went to sit outside, a little farther from where they were sitting. We’d just asked God to bless our food when he appeared at my elbow. “Look! Look!” he said as he held out his little shirt. “Do you see it? It’s a butterfly!” His eyes were shining so brightly that it seemed as if his whole being was aglow.
The tiny creature seemed perfectly content with its unusual resting spot, and all of us admired the lovely colorings as it slowly opened and closed its tiny wings. “You have a way with little critters,” I said.
With a joyful nod, he told us all about ladybugs and dogs, goats and chickens, and even his adventure with a snake. My granddaughter and I shared a little smile because she also loves all kinds of God’s creatures. We listened carefully. He had our full attention.
The butterfly fluttered to the ground, and with infinite care, he knelt and nudged it back on his finger. “I gotta go,” he said. We watched as he hurried back to his family.
He was watching us when we left, and we waved good-bye. His face lit up again with a big grin and he eagerly waved back.
Our busy day, filled with lessons and schedules, and surrounded with prayers for our friends and family in the path of a dangerous storm, was illuminated by a brilliant display of God’s extraordinary grace in the shape of a little seven-year-old cowboy with a gentle touch.
That’s how God works sometimes. In the busyness of our very ordinary lives, we’re given a glimpse of His glory. On this day, for me, God provided an encounter with a little boy who has an absolute delight in the world around him. He shared a few moments of his joy with us, complete strangers. He did it deliberately, wholeheartedly, and without the least shred of personal gratification. And in his usefulness to God, he became an emissary of the love of Jesus.
I’m thankful for another lesson in God’s grace and feel compelled to search my heart for the application. When was the last time I shared a joyful discovery with someone else? Have I simply laughed together with a person I may not even know? And am I willing to step into the life of another human being with no other reason than to be a blessing?
I call him “my little gentleman cowboy” since I don’t know even know his name. And he has made my heart rejoice. His unexpected appearance in the middle of a busy day was a gift from our “Father of lights” (James 1:17 ESV). His joy of life stays with me, a fragrant offering of hope sent from the Lord.
Let’s Pray: Dear Lord of Heaven, Earth, and of little boys with gallant hearts, we ask You to help us become like little children in the way we come to You. May we rest joyfully in Your perfect presence, and may You fill us in order to lighten and to brighten the lives of others as You have done for us. In the magnificent name of Jesus, we pray. Amen.
Karen Marstaller is a retired high school teacher who spent most of her career challenging creative students to write. Her heart is for her readers.
She writes to encourage them, to make them laugh, to show them that life is a beautiful journey, and regardless of their past, to show them that there is joy ahead if they will just keep looking.
Karen and her husband live in central Texas in a sweet little home that they completely remodeled. They enjoy spending time with their family, which includes seven precious grandchildren.
Most of all, Karen writes in obedience to the command to love your neighbor, to offer a cup of water to those who are dying of thirst, and to comfort others with the comfort she has received.
You can reach Karen by emailing her at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org