Altar Call - Opelika-Auburn News
June 10, 2001
Every Sunday several little children bless me with a loving embrace. Somehow they found out how much I need their love, and they share it with me every Sunday morning. "Hug the pastor" is not listed in the Sunday bulletin but for some of the children giving me a big hug is part of the Lordís day ritual.
I love it. It makes me wish everyday was Sunday. No matter how many bewildering problems I am facing, or how much trouble the devil is stirring up, the love of the children cheers me up. Their happy faces remind me that I am on the winning team no matter how rough the road or how long the day.
Come to think of it, none of these little ones ever shares any gossip with me. None of them ever comes to me with a list of complaints or tells me about the latest vicious rumor that is making the rounds. The kids never come with a long face to tell me how bad things are now, compared to how good they were years ago.
No, with that innocence we all admire but none of us can explain, the little children simply offer me their love. The only thing they are expecting from me is to return their love with my own smile and the tender words, "I love you." When one precious little girl reaches out to me, she calls me "Butter Walter." Her tiny face is always aglow with a million-dollar smile.
Looking at her radiant face I am reminded of the television commercial which concludes with the line, "It doesnít get any better than this." And I know, for me, few things are more precious than the unconditional love of little girls and boys. Beer and fish are not even in the ballgame.
One night this week our son Timís children called and sang "Happy Birthday" over the telephone to my wife Dean. What fun to hear them! Especially little Sarah who the week before had called to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, then sang the first verse of our national anthem, without taking a breath.
On another night we were invited to supper with our son Steveís family. They have two boys, Jake and Josh. Josh volunteered to offer the blessing before we ate. My wife was in tears before he finished praying. He ignored the memorized prayers and prayed from his heart.
"Our Father," he said, "I am so happy that Grandmother can eat supper with us, because I love her so much, and she is a wonderful grandmother." I doubt that Dean heard much else that Josh said.
After his prayer I poked fun at Josh because he had not mentioned his sainted old grandpa in his prayer, but he promised to pray for me next time. This time he was honoring grandma on her birthday.
The table was set in the typical way, except for one special thing. Josh had put one stick of chewing gum in each plate. He wanted to share his gum with us all, but he reminded us that we could not chew it until after supper.
As another Fatherís Day approaches, I realize that I am a very blessed man. My sons and their wives embrace me whenever we greet one another. And all of my grandchildren give me a hug and a smile when we get together. Even my little great grandchildren are learning to give grampa a hug.
Does it get any better than being loved by precious little children? I donít think so.
Should we, then, redouble our efforts to make the world a better place for the children? I believe so. And we can begin by giving the little ones a hug every chance we get.