Gallery of Gratitude—Week #6

15 weeks, 15 letters, 15 minutes. To start the new year, 2015. It’s never too late to join us. Learn about the challenge here.

Someone under the age of 18

When we think about people who have influenced us, we often look to our past. But young people can have an impact, too—because of their hard work; or compassion for pets, siblings, or others; or their willingness to do what is asked; or because of their sunshiny smile. Write and let a young person know that you noticed them.

Today I’m going to share part of one of the chapters in my book (What He is Made Of: Drawing the Underlying Structure). It talks about how if we look closely, if we watch to see Who God is and what He is made of, it helps us learn to lean on Him. This is just one small segment about a sweet little girl I adore (written a couple years ago when she was just five).


vanessaOne morning, I watched a little girl make the rounds during the worship service. Five-year-old Vanessa is irresistible with her pale translucent skin, dark blond hair, green eyes, and a sweet smile that camouflages her somewhat devious personality. She walked up the aisle with little flouncy twists of her skirt, chin tucked down into her doll, big eyes taking in everything. She stopped at the end of a row, watching until Peggy glanced in her direction. When Vanessa ran to her, Peggy laughed and picked her up and swung her around.

After a few minutes, Vanessa headed to the other end of the row, waiting until Katie beckoned her over. She giggled, snuggling in, prepared to be adored. Just as she was about to doze
off in Katie’s arms, Vanessa suddenly extended her arms to me. I wrapped my arms around her and squeezed her tight. Before long, she climbed over the pew to sit next to Jordan. When he smiled at her, she scooted closer and showed him her doll, waiting for him to light up in delight. He did. We all had, the moment she shifted her attention to us.

Vanessa was in a safe place, where she knew without a doubt she was loved and would be welcomed with open arms. So she made her way through the church, letting one and all adore her. Because we’ve loved her since she was born, she knows what to expect. When she leaps into the air, she expects to be caught. When she reaches up, we’ll reach down. When she climbs into our laps, she will feel loved. Doubt doesn’t enter into the equation. Vanessa feels safe because we’ve never disappointed her.

When we learn the underlying structure of God, we, too, can feel that security. When we read stories about the convoluted paths of men and women failing over and over again—
killing and lying and cheating and complaining and rebelling—when we hear about miraculous deliverances, of complete change, of God’s unfailing love, then we learn what to expect. We start to believe we can trust Him. We don’t know exactly how He’ll react—in Vanessa’s case, she may not know if we will hug her or spin her or cuddle her or tickle her or give her our last piece of gum—but we do know that He has our best interests at heart. That He’s going to do what’s right. And that there are no limits to the ways He will solve our problems or the lengths He will go for one, just one, lost or hurting soul.

So we study His Word. We pray. We write. And when the time is right, when we are sure we have His attention, well, then we run toward Him. And leap.


Is there a young person in your life who has caught your attention? Let them know you’re noticed them. Remind them that their actions—or their mere presence—matters.

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