The little girl with chocolate eyes and bouncing black curls, the one who listened raptly to Jesus stories every evening last week and remembered details I barely remembered telling...she showed me hope up close.
I was telling the story of Zacchaeus. How he stole money and the money didn't make him happy because he didn't know Jesus.
"Was Zacchaeus a kind man?" I asked.
"No!" A dozen four-and-five year-olds shook their heads vigorously.
And this little girl, the one I'll call "Hope"- her little voice piped up and caught me off guard, "My dad stoled money! He went to jail."
I fumbled for words, breathed a quick prayer. "That's sad," I said, slowly. "It makes Jesus sad when we do things like that, but He still loves us. He always forgives us when we tell Him we are sorry. Jesus loves your dad."
I continued with the story, telling how Jesus called Zacchaeus by name and how Jesus knows our names, too. "Jesus knows all about you," I told them. "Even though you can't see Him, He is with you all the time. He watches you and keeps you safe."
Hope's chocolate eyes lit up this time, and she nodded. Her voice piped up again, clear and confident.
"Jesus did watch me," she said. "My mom and my dad were gone and Jesus watched me."
And right after that, she proceeds to tell me how her mommy and daddy yell at each other. Several other little ones identify with her story, "Our moms and dads fight too." My heart breaks and I find myself at loss for words but because of Hope's trusting words, I find myself standing in awe of a God who is BIGGER.
Sometimes the children are more confident in their receiving than I am in my telling.
She puts my small faith to shame. I remember what Hope told my sister several evenings earlier, "Sometimes I see Jesus in my dreams." She calls me to a bigger view of God, a deeper hope of God's redemption in this town of broken homes and shattered dreams. Jesus is reaching inside the homes that are ravaged by sin. He hears the cries of His children.