“We love Him, because He first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar; for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from Him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.” 1 John 4:19-21
Our weekly Christian devotional
Bright orange maple leaves dance in a jovial swirl on the cracked driveway. Barbara hovers over the back of the worn couch, peering through the window. Resting her chin on her palms, she watches the elegant show unfold before her. Perhaps the God of those dancing leaves would teach her to be so carefree…
A loud horn gruffly startles Barbie out of her trance. Her brown eyes dart to the end of the block. She watches as a rusty church bus rounds the sharp corner from the main street. Thick puffs of black exhaust trail behind. It swiftly halts in front of Barbara’s apartment, almost passing it up.
“Mom, I’m going to church!” Scrambling from the couch, she calls loudly from the living room, throwing on her patent leather shoes as fast as she can.
“Mmmmhmmm…” Ms. Vasquez tosses one eyebrow over the Sunday paper while tapping the ash of her cigarette into a cereal bowl.
The heavy slam of the front door rattles the thin walls. Barbie’s mother never stirs from her position.
Barbara steadies her barrel-like figure on the edges of the seats while the driver vainly attempts to dodge about a dozen potholes.
Slowly making her way towards the back of the bus, her rosy cheeks flush a little rosier. All eyes are on her.
Barbie’s heart skips in relief as she eyes a vacant seat. Smoothing the front of her dress, she traces her thick fingers over the map of Barbados printed on the front. It’s a tropical dress, made for breezy summer days. And although it was halfway through fall, Barbie had only one dress…
The tall brick building loomed larger as the church bus neared it. Her little heart swelled again. She wondered to herself: “Would God really be there?”
Waiting for all the other kids to dismantle, Barbara hoped off the bus last, heading towards the shiny church lobby.
Inside, it smelled like pink sanitizer soap. Those patent shoes she loved so much squeaked loudly, bringing unwanted attention to the shy girl.
An old man pulls candy out his pocket as a gaggle of young children tug at his sleeves. A couple of them hang on the edges of his wool coat. “You look lost.” The man smiled warmly while handing Barbie a watermelon lollipop.
“Thank you, sir. Which way do I go?”
“Well, how old are you?” Pulling a paper from his other pocket, his wrinkled brow furrows as he scans the church program carefully.
“I’m ten.” Barbara sniffs the lollipop through the wrapper,
“Ah! It says here you need to be in room number 904.” Pointing down the hallway with his crooked finger, the kind man winks; stuffing a lollipop in her other hand.
Barbara grinned, while heading down the hall searching for room 904.
“Room 904!” The young girl is delighted to find the door right in front of her.
Peeking through the window, she saw all heads in the room were bowed in prayer. Her heart pounded loudly. Barbie’s sweaty palm trembles as she reaches for the door; she waited for the Sunday school teacher to finish praying.
As soon as she did, Barbara swung the door open just as the class lifted their heads. The small room was filled to capacity. Once again, all eyes were on the chubby, awkward girl.
Barbie blushed while grasping the candy in her sweaty palm. There was one open seat in the room, front and center. The pretty blonde Sunday school teacher smiled and pointed for Barbara to sit in it.
As Barbie moved towards the open chair, the children around her scooted away from the new girl. A low din of whispers and giggles ensued. The patter of her heart slowed, turning into a familiar sinking sensation.
When she first saw the church invitation stacked on top of the trash, she was intrigued. But, that interest only lasted for a second; Barbie reminded herself that it wouldn’t be any different from any other social invitation. It could only end in disaster, just like every other…
Strangely, the next day as Barbie flipped through the channels on T.V; she heard the words: “Jesus loves you.”
It felt as if the television preacher was speaking right into her heart, telling little Barbie just what she needed to hear.
The girl’s interest in God was piqued alive again. She had to find out if the words that preacher spoke were actually God’s truth.
So, little Barbara Vasquez sifted through the trash, determined to find the discarded church flier. And that’s what brought the young girl to the First Bible Baptist Church on this crisp fall day.
“If God is love, where’s the love?” Barbie’s hope hovered like a low balloon–in a room that seemed to be filled with brightly colored, shiny, helium-filled ones.
Beautiful words about the love of God were spoken that Sunday; but they couldn’t be heard, not by Barbara. The young girl was too wrought with pain. If she couldn’t get any love from God’s people, where could she go to find it?
“Dear Heavenly Father,
I repent. My heart has gotten so familiar with your blessings and your love, that I have forgotten the whole point. I must be generous with the love you have shown me, by sharing it with others.
Where did I get so cold, Lord? How could I be more educated in the teachings of you and miss the whole point of your teachings and your Son’s life mission on earth?
Lord, I want you to search my heart and show me where I started to move towards such selfish and cold-hearted thinking. I need you to show me and guide me through my bad habits. Help me to make new ones, ones that will bring the people you love into your kingdom, not turn them away from it.
I cannot take the gift of salvation and horde it all to myself. I must pursue love, because when I do this people can see that God is real, because His people love just like He does.
In Jesus’ precious name, bless me to know what this means and show me just how to do it. Amen.”
Thank you for reading our weekly Christian devotional on verses: 1 John 4:19-21
Please check back and see what we have for you next week!
Author: Julia Shalom Jordan