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Baby Erik and the Old Man

We were the only family with children in the restaurant. I sat Erik in a high chair and noticed everyone was quietly eating and talking. Suddenly, Erik squealed with glee and said, "Hi there." He pounded his fat baby hands on the high-chair tray. His eyes were wide with excitement and his mouth was bared in a toothless grin. He wriggled and giggled with merriment.

I looked around and saw the source of his merriment. It was a man with a tattered rag of a coat; dirty, greasy and worn. His pants were baggy with a zipper at half-mast and his toes poked out of would-be shoes. His shirt was dirty and his hair was uncombed and unwashed. His whiskers were too short to be called a beard and his nose was so varicose it looked like a road map. We were too far from him to smell, but I was sure he smelled. His hands waved and flapped on loose wrists.

"Hi there, baby; hi there, big boy. I see ya, buster," the man said to Erik. My husband and I exchanged looks, "What do we do?" Erik continued to laugh and answer, "Hi, hi there." Everyone in the restaurant noticed and looked at us and then at the man. The old geezer was creating a nuisance with my beautiful baby.

Our meal came and the man began shouting from across the room, "Do ya know patty cake? Do you know peek-a-boo? Hey, look, he knows peek-a-boo." Nobody thought the old man was cute. He was obviously drunk. My husband and I were embarrassed. We ate in silence; all except for Erik, who was running through his repertoire for the admiring skid-row bum, who in turn, reciprocated with his cute comments.

We finally got through the meal and headed for the door. My husband went to pay the check and told me to meet him in the parking lot. The old man sat poised between me and the door. "Lord, just let me out of here before he speaks to me or Erik," I prayed.

As I drew closer to the man, I turned my back trying to side-step him and avoid any air he might be breathing. As I did, Erik leaned over my arm, reaching with both arms in a baby's "pick-me-up" position. Before I could stop him, Erik had propelled himself from my arms to the man's. Suddenly a very old smelly man and a very young baby consummated their love relationship.

Erik in an act of total trust, love, and submission laid his tiny head upon the man's ragged shoulder. The man's eyes closed, and I saw tears hover beneath his lashes. His aged hands full of grime, pain, and hard labor-gently, so gently, cradled my baby's bottom and stroked his back.

No two beings have ever loved so deeply for so short a time. I stood awestruck. The old man rocked and cradled Erik in his arms for a moment, and then his eyes opened and set squarely on mine. He said in a firm commanding voice, "You take care of this baby." Somehow I managed, "I will," from a throat that contained a stone. He pried Erik from his chest - unwillingly, longingly, as though he were in pain.

I received my baby, and the man said, "God bless you, ma'am, you've given me my Christmas gift." I said nothing more than a muttered thanks. With Erik in my arms, I ran for the car. My husband was wondering why I was crying and holding Erik so tightly, and why I was saying, "My God, my God, forgive me."

I had just witnessed Christ's love shown through the innocence of a tiny child who saw no sin, who made no judgment; a child who saw a soul, and a mother who saw a suit of clothes. I was a Christian who was blind, holding a child who was not.

I felt it was God asking- "Are you willing to share your son for a moment?" - when He shared His for all eternity. The ragged old man, unwittingly, had reminded me, "To enter the Kingdom of God, we must become as little children."




Life quest Commentary


This is a particularly moving and thought-provoking story. Can you identify with it?

While the circumstances may have been different, I’m sure that each of us has experienced times in our own lives when we, like the mother, have been prideful, puffed up and judgmental towards others. At other times we perhaps have been recipients of the scorn, disdain, condescending glances or comments of others (whether deserved or not). It is not a good feeling to be treated this way, and we should keep this thought in mind as we relate to other people.

Jesus said, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” Matthew 7:12

The gospel of Luke, chapter 6:31-38, records the occasion when Jesus expanded on this subject by saying:

31And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.
32For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them.
33And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same.
34And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.
35But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.
36Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:
38Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

As we contemplate these penetrating words of Jesus, it should be apparent that each of us has personally, in one way or another, missed the mark by failing to keep God's commandment to be merciful and love one another as He is merciful and loving to us.

We are told in Romans 3:23, that "all have sinned, and come short of the Glory of God; being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.."

The important question is, "Do you understand that Jesus took your place? He died on the cross, taking the penalty for our sins upon Himself, so that we could receive forgiveness of our sins and the gift of eternal life through faith in Jesus!

If you have understood that Jesus died in your place and have already received His gift of eternal life, Praise the Lord!!

If not, why not receive Him right now?

We encourage you to refer to the LIFEQUEST "Food for Thought" topics of Salvation and Gospel which will further explain what He has done for you, how much God loves you and show you how to receive Jesus as your Savior and Lord.


A Challenge to Believers:

As believers, let us pray always that God will open our eyes and hearts, making us sensitive to the needs (physical, emotional and spiritual) of the people around us. And regardless of how a person may look, their culture, personality or the circumstances they may be in, let us, without judgmental thoughts or condemnation, treat them with the same love, compassion and mercy with which our Heavenly Father treats us!

Let us reach out to others and through our love-filled words and actions, draw their attention to the true and living God who loves them more than they ever could know.

God bless you and have a great day!

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