What an older woman taught me about Jesus
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“Come near to God and he will come near to you…” (James 4:8, NIV).
I dated young.
I was but ten years old, a dashing adolescent male in the fourth grade, going about my day-to-day business when I got the news. My knobby knees, scabbed over from feet-first slides into second base and a few too many crashes on my dirt bike, shook at the announcement. A fifth-grader named Jenni, of whose existence I was unaware until that moment in time, not only “liked” me, but “liked, liked” me.
Of course, I’ve changed “Jenni’s” identity for reputation’s sake – hers, not mine. She was eleven, a whole grade older than me, and on the cusp of graduating from our elementary school in central Kansas. Jenni was pretty, much smarter than most of the other kids, and, I imagined, very kind. I didn’t care one bit if she couldn’t kick a soccer ball very far. We were young. We were wild. We were in love and going steady!
I was informed of the arrangement by my friends, who had spoken to Jenni’s friends, who may or may not have actually spoken to Jenni herself. Our relationship was complicated in that way. Jenni and I, throughout our three-week-long courtship, never actually conversed with one another, Our romantic notions were always communicated through our classmates.
As a token of my love for and commitment to Jenni, I soon bought her a necklace. My mom had given me permission to do so and even financed my five dollar or so purchase. I remember to this day, and probably still possess at my mom’s house, that necklace. It had a chain that was connected to a butterfly pendant which held a blue gemstone.
Apparently, Jenni’s mom was not the romantic that my mom was., as she made Jenni return the necklace to me via my friends on the playground just a day after my purchase. Come to think of it, Jenni probably never actually wanted the blue butterfly necklace, let alone a relationship with me. I would come to the shockingly devastating realization a few hours following our break-up. I sat tearfully beside my mom, whose words were meant to be reassuring, but made little impact on my broken heart,
My childhood relationship with Jenni reminds me today of the importance of communication. Sometimes, I get it wrong when it comes to communicating with others. Sometimes I get it wrong when it comes to communicating with my true, first love, Jesus.
The Bible tells us that, in order for God to come near to us, we must come near to Him. This is the New Chuck Translation of James’ words, but you undoubtedly get the idea. My relationship with Jesus will inevitably have a difficult time of fully developing if I refuse to seek Jesus out, to share my praises and concerns with Him in prayer, and to spend time with Him in His Word.
I’m getting better at this thing called faith, but still have quite a ways to go. So, I thank God for His patience and grace. And, of course, I thank God for Jenni, the older woman in my life, who taught me so much about Jesus.