As you know, last Wednesday was my birthday and Janet I went out to dinner with two of our three children – to our favorite local restaurant, Kona. We must go there at least several times a week – either dine in or carry-out. It doesn’t make much difference – it’s healthy food that always has us coming back for more. And as luck would have it, Emily, one of our favorite servers, was there to assist us on my very special birthday evening.
Now here is where several stories collide. Emily has a son, Eli, who has been very sick and recently, was able to have a much needed kidney transplant. Eli is a little guy, he’ll be five in 2014, so this was a really serious thing and as a result of knowing Emily, we got involved in COTA, the Children’s Organ Transplant Association, in order to help Eli. We have attended a fundraiser or two and during the Christmas season, we made sure that Eli was remembered through our donations to COTA.
This little fellow will have quite a road ahead of him. Anti-rejection drugs and all sorts of meds. And since he is so little, it is probable that he will have to go through this again in 25 or 30 years according to what I understand. Janet and I stay in touch with Emily and always check on Eli’s progress, but I received a special birthday present this year. Our family actually met Eli during our dinner last Wednesday. Eli is doing rather well, with very positive medical reports, and Emily actually brought him to work with her as she worked her shift at Kona.
Imagine our surprise when we were able to meet this young boy that we have been praying for and supporting since we first knew about his need for a kidney transplant. It was really special. Of course, we are strangers to him and he was kind of quiet, but I would expect that. But what a smile! When I think of all the things that boy has already been through, and the medical things that will be necessities for the duration of his life, my heart really goes out to him and his family. What an encouragement and inspiration to the rest of us.
It’s one of those things that you realize when you think you have problems until you see a helpless child deal with adversity in a way that should be a lesson to all of us. During our dinner, I watched Eli sitting with his father, sitting several tables away, and entertaining himself on an iPad. Then came his feeding time, through a tube.
We are rather well known at Kona and so it didn’t come as much of a surprise when they brought out a dessert for our table, complete with a birthday candle. And while everyone at the table sang, so did the servers who were nearby and Eli came over to join in as well. He was smiling ear to ear… even laughing at the celebration. Eli was having a great time – and it wasn’t even his birthday.
The verse for this evening comes from Matthew 19:14, “Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Christ wants us to have the faith of a child, and there is no doubt that children hold a special place in the heart of Jesus. When you get exposed to somebody such as Eli, you recognize that. My encouragement this evening is that God wants each of us to have the faith of a child. Total trust that things are going to work out fine – without regard for our own agendas… completely in the will of God. My prayer is that you will see the innocence in people like Eli and try to emulate their behavior because truly, the kingdom of God belongs to these children. Of course, praying for him and perhaps even getting involved in helping children is a great way to honor God in the process. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…