These events fell as I prepared to “celebrate” my 30th birthday. The day happened to fall during my holiday in Devon with my sister, brother in law and niece, Hannah (who was eight at the time).
I was a bit down on the day before my birthday – not at all because of my impending age increase but because I had actually been due to spend my birthday with my girlfriend and we had just broke up.
I was obviously upset although I now see the Lord’s hand in it – but we won’t go delving into that now. Suffice to say I felt pretty rotten as the day that I had so much looked forward to approached.
We were staying in a townhouse on the Devon coast and – true to British Weather standards – it had rained for the first six days of our holiday, in fact it rained so much that much of the area was flooded.
So on the morning of my birthday I awoke to see there were few clouds in the sky – praise God for small mercies, but I was feeling pretty much numb about the whole day. This frustrated me even more as I thought I should have been happy it was my birthday. At this point I heard some footsteps and then a knock at my bedroom door. I said “come in” and it was opened by Hannah who smiled and held up a small envelope and said “Happy Birthday”. I suppose something about my demeanour was transmitted on my face as she seemed to question whether she had said the right thing.
Deciding to put a brave face on it I smiled and held put my hand for the card. She brushed this aside and gave me a huge hug and then ran out the door. I called to her as like most children she normally likes to watch people open cards and gifts but she never came back. So I opened the card muttering something about how I may as well get on with it anyway.
Hannah had handpicked this card, on it was a picture of a little girl drawing a teddy bear, using her own as a model, she was holding her thumb up to the teddy – ‘artist style’. This touched me as I often have spent time with her helping to draw and paint, I am “artistically inclined” (that’s the phrase my sister uses anyway!) and her parents confess to “enjoying it but not being very good at it”. The fact that this was her choice of card here showed me that she treasured those moments as much as I did (her mother had bought her a different one to send me but she refused as she had seen this one in a local shop).
Already my heart was warmer and then I read the neat childs handwriting inside. I later found that she had not allowed her parents to read this, but inside the card was blank save a small “Happy Birthday” and she had written this
> To Uncle Ryan
> I love you very much
> So much it makes me feel good inside
> love Hannah
The message itself was enough to warm my heart and I wondered what I had done to deserve such love. I asked her later in a sort of joking manner why she loved me. She had replied “because you are MY uncle Ryan”. The emphasis on the “my” intrigued me and so (suddenly forgetting my previous gloomy demeanour) I asked her why she had said that way. Her answer was one of the sweetest things I had heard.
In keeping with many of the children at our church Hannah has got into the habit of calling many adults “Uncle” and “Aunt”, especially those she sees quite often – it’s a sort of term of endearment I suppose. Hannah has always referred to me as “MY Uncle Ryan” – I just had never questioned it before. Anyway Hannah’s reason for the “MY” was so that I knew that I was HER uncle Ryan and that although other kids called me that and that she has other uncles, I was, to her, a “special uncle” and she wanted me to know it.
After this my birthday blues seemed to fade away.
This got me thinking though, Christ said unless we “become as a little child…etc.” and maybe here is something we can learn from them.
Hannah hand picked that card because she knew I would understand the personal meaning behind it. She wrote it privately because she wanted me to know that it was from her alone, just for me. She put in the effort of ensuring her writing was neat and she put in the thought behind the emphasis that I should know I was HER uncle. And she didn’t care if I told nobody about any of it. In truth I already knew that physically I was HER uncle (she is my only niece) but she wanted me to know that SHE knew it too. It was done for me, not for her, not for anyone else, just me.
That is what really touched me and it was that sort of thing that I realised I did so little of for MY Jesus.
* Maybe I could, and should, try to touch His heart.
* Maybe I could try to show Him that I really do appreciate the time and effort he has spent with me.
* Maybe I could try and do what would please Him rather than live as if He were a “get out of jail free” card.
* Maybe I can put in that extra effort to ensure my “personal” time with Him is not crammed between oversleeping and being late for work.
* Maybe, instead of just reading the bible I could try to understand it and see how He wants me to apply it my life.
* Above all, maybe I could do it for Him, not me, not for anyone else to see, just Him.
Maybe you could too?
Now there’s a thought.
Offered in the Love of Christ