The Gift of Love

“We love because he first loved us.”
1 John? ?4?:?19? NIV

It was our first day of going out to serve in the care points and my heart was full of excitement and expectancy for what the Lord was planning to do. I had no idea what to expect and I loved that! All I knew was God was going to work, and he did.

The minute we arrived at the carepoint we were immediately welcomed by adorable children with loving arms. These bright eyed kids were enamored with the fact that these white people had come to love on them. The minute we stepped off the bus every child in sight ran and jumped into every open pair of arms they could find—that is every child but one. Before I had the chance to pick up one of these adorable giddy children, one little girl caught my eye. Standing off by herself was a little girl around the age of four. Just by a first glance at this child you could see her yellow round eyes from sickness and her round belly from malnutrition. I saw confusion in her eyes as she watched all of the other children being held and loved on with huge smiles on their faces. So without a second thought, I ran up to this lonely confused child with the hope to scoop her in my arms and love on her. However, when I tried to pick her up, the strangest thing happened. At first, she hesitated when I reached my arms out to her, unlike most children who immediately grab on. Once I was fully able to pick her up, she was clueless on what to do. Instead of wrapping her legs around me, her skinny little legs just dangled by my side. I didn’t understand. I thought to myself, “How is it possible for a child to not know how to be held?” Then it hit me. This child had never been held before. No one had ever gone out of their way to show her love. Everything clicked and I realized that she was completely unfamiliar with the concept of love.

As the day progressed, she slowly warmed up to me. It started out rough though. Once I picked her up, I took her to get her food and sat her in my lap while she ate. The whole time I tried to make her laugh or smile, but she still remained very stand off-ish. I was not seeing any fruit and there were literally hundreds of other children I could be loving on so I figured I might as well set this child down while I move on to another. In this moment I felt the Lord whisper, “Not yet Sarah. My work here is not done.” Not only did he want His precious child to feel true love, but He also wanted to use this as a reminder to me of the perfect love we can find through Christ. As my heart opened to this idea, it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever been able to watch. As time passed, the same child who was hesitant and confused to let me hold her, turned into a child who would not leave my side for one second. She followed me everywhere and wanted to be held every chance she got. Once she had experienced this genuine love, there was no going back for her—she wanted every bit she could get.

This experience was the perfect reminder for me of the love we have in Jesus. We are the little girl dangling her legs by his side. We think we know what love is, but we can’t actually comprehend this until we find the love of Jesus. No amount of earthly love could compare to the love our Heavenly Father has for us. Once we get to experience being held in his loving arms, there’s no going back. We want more & more, and he time after time he gives us just that.

I will always remember this sweet child and the amazing reminder of Gods love she was to me that day in Africa. Sadly I was never able to figure out the girl’s name. I tried multiple times to ask her, but she didn’t know one bit of English and I didn’t know one bit of Siswati. However our language barriers didn’t matter because love is a language in itself. There are a lot of things love is and isn’t, but that day love was the simple act of holding a child through the love of Jesus.



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