I step out of the restaurant dinner in hand and head across the street. My classmate is waiting for me there, having been kind enough to give me a lift home.
But there’s someone standing between me and her car.
A little boy. Maybe 8.
“Auntie si ununue njugu? Auntie? Aki nunua njugu?”
I’m not particularly fond of peanuts.
That’s the first thing that crosses my mind as he follows me. Persistently repeating the same line.
I don’t want to stop. My friend is waiting, I reason. But I know that’s not the real reason. I can already see the ambush God has set up for me. He’s going to wreck me again. He always does this.
Great timing, Lord. Ugh. Sigh.
What am I even going to do with them? I wonder as I halt my steps and turn to face him.
He’s much smaller than I thought. Not even a sweater on. And is he wearing shorts? Wait. Where did my mother come from?
He opens his mouth but no sound comes out. He tries again. The beginning of a sentence. And again. This time he stammers out the prices of the tiny bundles he’s carrying.
No, God. You’re seriously not going to do this to me now. Not now.
But it’s too late. The rush of emotion that drowns my heart reminds me He’s near. He’s here.
And I look at the little boy finally accepting to do more than just look.
Bravery. Anyone who’s familiar with marketing-sales in particular-will tell you the hardest sale to make is a cold sale. Approaching a complete stranger who probably thinks you’re a nuisance to attempt to sell them something they likely have little need or desire for.
Yet here is this boy doing cold sales in the cold getting no more than twenty bob at most per sale. This boy who keeps his head up as he stammers. I know well-spoken, highly educated adults who would balk at the idea of taking his place.
I dig into my bag for change clamping down my emotions. It don’t want to see anymore. It hurts to see.
It isn’t long before I’m home. But the sight of my warm bedroom is scarcely comforting. I’m still back there. Stuck in time. In front of that brave little boy.
“He should be in bed. Safe and warm. On a full tummy. Smiling in his sleep because his mother tucked him in!”
I’ve only just begun my tirade.
Again and again, I shove my verbal fists into God’s chest.
He takes it. Silently.
When I finally descend to the floor in tears, He wraps His arms around me.
“Why is he out there in the cold alone?” It’s a hushed whisper. Even though I didn’t want to, I’d seen right through his brave façade to the painful loneliness deep within.
He knows I’m not questioning His omnipresence. That was a different battle fought in a different season. Loneliness with company around and loneliness in solitude is all the same lonely.
“He needs to know You’re there. It’s not enough for me to know for him. He needs to know for himself.”
“Why do you think you were there? What? You think I’m going to let your tears go to waste?”
I smile remembering…the raw honesty in tears makes for powerful prayers.
“No…no…You never do.”
I don’t know where this brave little boy is right now.
But wherever he is, he’s with a Father who cares for him more than I ever could even with my tears.
A Father who orders his steps with a love that defies human logic and expectations. Because it sees past a difficult present into beautiful eternity.