A Grandmother and Granddaughter
“We taught the daycare children by example, and you were with me.” Mrs. Gertrude said, tickling her granddaughter, Sharon’s side.
“I remember,” Sharon said, “but I’m twelve now!”
Mrs. Gertrude smiled as her ‘little Sharon’ donned her best grown up imitation. “Do you remember our career center? You and your friends pretended to be scientists, engineers, beauticians, firefighters, or ballerinas by wearing hats. Then we’d share read-to-me books while we passed the featured hat around.”
“It was fun,” Sharon said.
“Do you remember Bible time? With glee, you and your friends walked with Moses, Noah, Paul, and Thomas. You cast fishing nets with Peter, tugged on Mary’s hem, and took turns swaddling baby Jesus. Your teachers got to play dress-up. Those were good times.”
“Grammy, tell me about Mr. Art,” Sharon said, pulling her chair close to her grandmother.
“It was an idyllic world of ‘Show and Tell’—except for a secret I hid—our cashbox was missing money almost daily. I have to admit, I was angry about it. One fear loomed within me. Would I be able to show kindness if I discovered who the thief was? I prayed, ‘Father God, help me see this person from Your perspective so my actions will please You.’ I continued leaving a small amount of money in the cashbox.”
“Tell me about the night you stayed over…”
“Get a flashlight. You be the lightening while I tell the story.”
Sharon flickered the flashlight as she listened…
* * *
One evening I was ironing sequins on a hat I was crafting. A storm was brewing, so I had parked my car in the garage. Suddenly, I heard a crash in the office area. As I investigated, a man rose from behind the desk.
“Jesus, help!” I called out, still clutching the craft iron.
The cashbox lay open on the floor. I knew this man was the thief, but as I looked at his demeanor, my initial fear of this intruder left, and my mind raced with ideas of how to help him. He needed clothes, a bath, even shoes, but most of all, I felt he needed understanding.
“Sir, you’re caught red-handed, but I want you to know Jesus loves you,” I said.
A strange compassion filled my soul as I spoke those words. How can I be eyeball-to-eyeball with this thief, and feel empathy? I thought. Then I remembered my prayer and knew God was showing me He loved this man and so must I.
The man shifted from one foot to the other, “Let me pass.”
“No,” I said, “Just relax, and tell me what your needs are.”
“Get outta my way.”
“Sit,” I said.
I stayed in the doorway, still holding the iron. I knew he thought I might use it as a weapon, but I wouldn’t have.
The man sighed. He sat.
“My name is Mrs. Gertrude. What’s yours?”
“People calls me Art.”
“Thank you, Mr. Art. Let’s figure things out. Why you didn’t ask us for help.”
Mr. Art shrugged.
“Are you behind on your bills? Do you need groceries? We have a clothing closet…”
“I don’t need that.”
“No one’s gonna help me get what I want.”
“Please, help me to understand.”
After a long silence, Mr. Art spoke. “People gives me stuff. But, nobody gives me liquor, that’s why I steals from ya, But, I takes jest enough to get booze fer the night.”
I believed his confession.
“Are you gonna give me my booze?”
“No sir,” I said.
“Mr. Art, my struggles might not be the same as yours, but I fall way short of doing things right. That’s why I need Jesus. I’ve messed up too. And yet, He is here for both of us. But we have to ask Him to help us. When we do, He even shows us how to love like He does.”
Mr. Art fidgeted in his pocket. He pulled out a twenty and handed it to me.
“Thank you, sir.” I said. “Tell me, do you really want to keep the booze habit?”
Mr. Art shrugged, “I’m not proud of it.”
I put the iron on the desk and motioned. “Walk with me, please. I’m fully aware you could dash out that door and disappear into the night, but I trust you want me to help you.”
Mr. Art followed as I entered the play room.
““Do you see these hats?”
Mr. Art nodded.
“If you were free from the addiction, which would you want to wear?”
Mr. Art slouched.
“Go on! Pull them off the peg board and dream a little!”
“I like this one.” Mr. Art said, pulling out an artist’s hat.
“Do you paint or draw?”
“I used to…but…”
“Then you drank….”
“I know I’m going to jail tonight, but I’m already in prison from this drinking.”
“If you’re ready for a do-over, we can ask Jesus to be in charge of your future.”
“Does religion work?”
“Religion doesn’t work, but a relationship with Jesus does.” I pulled a Bible from the shelf, “If you invite Jesus into your inmost being, and you believe He is yours, He changes you from the inside-out. The Bible says, ‘If any man trusts in Christ, he becomes a new man.’” (2 Corinthians 5:17 paraphrased) That means, with Jesus in your life, you’ll get a do-over. You’ll be able to start as if you never took one sip of liquor. I turned to Romans 10:9, “Do you believe me enough to pray with me?”“Religion doesn’t work, but a relationship with Jesus does.” -Diane Virginia Click To Tweet
Mr. Art nodded.
Fears melted, and faith arose as we prayed.
Just then, an officer rapped at the door. I opened it. He cuffed the intruder, who had become my friend. I wished the silent alarm had not gone off.
“Sir, would you like me to recommend a recovery house to the judge?”
“Officer,” I said, reaching for a Gospel of John Pocket-Bible, “can you please make sure this gentleman gets this?”
The officer tucked the Bible into Mr. Art’s shirt pocket.
“Will you read it?”
‘Thank you, sir.”
“I’ll read every word. And… that’s a promise.”
“Thank you.” I believed Mr. Art would keep his word.
The officer turned toward the door. Mr. Art turned his head in my direction.
“Thank ye for bein’ kind. I’m used to bein’ shown I’m a nobody. You’re different.”
“And you, sir, are an artist in the making.”
* * *
Sharon touched a picture on Mrs. Gertrude’s wall, “This is what Mr. Art sent you.”
“It is, child. And I picked the prettiest frame in the gallery to display his masterpiece.” The oil painting portrayed a man with a broken bottle in one hand, and his other hand lifted to the sky. I knew it was Mr. Art’s way of showing me he was recovering.
“Let’s pray for Mr. Art again, Grammy.”
Grandmother and granddaughter prayed for the gentleman they had learned to love—the artist named Mr. Art, who found his way to salvation by playing ‘Show & Tell.’ He had changed from the inside-out, but Mrs. Gertrude knew the biggest changes were within herself. God had removed her stony heart and had tucked within her a seed of compassion for the lost, the broken, and those who needed to know they could place their faith in the Master Artist.God had removed her stony heart and had tucked within her a seed of compassion for the lost, the broken, and those who needed to know they could place their faith in the Master Artist.-Diane Virginia Click To Tweet