Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Grumpy 3 Year Old and Jesus

I am very comfortable with telling teenagers about Jesus. I am an intern in student ministry, I'm still pretty much a teenager. I'm in my element explaining the Gospel to a sixth grader. But then God decided to throw a very bright, but misunderstood, three year old boy at me. For some reason, God saw me fit to bond with this little punk. Working at a daycare, you hear and notice lots of things about the family situations of all the kids. This particular little boy has A LOT going on. I'll leave it at that. I know from equal parts observation and discernment in my spirit that he just needs a lot of extra love, and God decided I should be the one to give it to him.

Thinking this would be a lot like student ministry, at recess I yell "Hey, Brian (*changed name), come hang out with me!" He walks over to me like the most angry three year old on the planet, because that's just his demeanor. He sits down beside me on the dirty gym floor and looks up at me with the biggest, brightest blue eyes and a frown. "Hi, Miss Matalie," he says in his deep raspy voice. "Hi, Brian. I'm glad you're here today!" He's one of those kids who walks in the classroom and you can see in the teacher's expressions that their day just got a lot harder. But not for me. He's my ministry right now. I know God has entrusted him to me for the next two weeks I will be working at the daycare. Brian asks me "Are we going to sleep today?" and I say "Yes, you'll go to sleep tonight after you eat dinner at home, right?" kind of poking, to make sure he has a home and eats dinner. He says "Yeah. And we NEVER say our prayers before bed." And just like that, God gave me an opportunity to talk to him about Jesus.
Me: Why do you never say your prayers?
Brian: We just don't.
Me: But you know you can talk to Jesus in your heart on your own, right? You don't need your mommy or daddy to help you, because Jesus always listens to our prayers.
Brian: Yeah, I know.
Me: And Jesus loves you so much, Brian. Do you love Him?
Brian: Yeah. (I so wish you could hear his little voice) I do. Miss Matalie, I have boogers. (And there's the part that is different from student ministry!)

I know it really doesn't sound like much, but this is such a big deal to me. I get to be a part of building up a firm foundation for this little boy. I get to show him Jesus.

The next day, for some reason he's my best friend. He wants to hang out with me for all of recess, and he is so impressed with my scarf. He keeps saying "What is this called? I wish I could get me one of these." He asks to play with my hair and tells me he is making me "so pretty like a princess." The toughest three year old I know is now the sweetest, most gentle child in the room. He even smiles and laughs, which is very rare for him. He's probably completely unaware, but I have my hand on his back, praying over him the entire time. I am praying that he will grow up knowing Christ, that he won't be defined by his family's mistakes, that his future will be bright, that he'll be filled with child-like joy, that God will protect him from heartbreak, despite his circumstances.

I'm fighting back tears, even just thinking about him now. Loving someone who isn't loved by the world is my calling. It's the thing that makes my insides turn, my heart melt. It's my "thing."

"but Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of Heaven." -Matthew 19:14

"but Jesus said" I'm so thankful for "but Jesus..."


  1. There is absolutely no doubt that God has His hand on your back, Natalie. He's going to use you in a BIG way to spread His love because you are such a loving, caring,and gentle soul yourself. You seem to immediately connect with children and you will affect so many of their lives during your ministry, some you'll never even know about. But, they will remember that young lady who touched their lives and made a difference. God bless you, Natalie, as you have blessed me today.

  2. For me 'twas not the truth you taught,
    To you so clear, to me so dim.
    But when you came to me you brought
    A sense of Him.
    And from your eyes, He beckons me;
    And from your heart, His love is shed
    Til I lose sight of you --
    And see the Christ instead.

    Natalie -- what an important and meaningful work to be the hands, the eyes, the face of Christ. I pray for "Brian" and I pray for you and your continued ministry with him and others.

  3. I'm so un-nurturing! How did you end up so nurturing? ha. True sign that God is at work in you. And besides for bringing me to tears (an almost impossible task), this was also a really fine piece of writing. Mrs. Puente, perhaps? :) -Mom