20 mothers and 20 fathers wept. And, with them did the world.
In a story that has become all too familiar in our crazy world, a man who chose evil over God a week ago Friday brought Jesus, too, to tears.
There would be no judgment this day for the 20. None was needed. These were 20 souls who had not been on earth long enough to have had to ask for forgiveness for anything. These 20 suddenly found themselves riding on a new school bus with heaven being their next stop.
When the 20 reached heaven they bounded off the bus and ran to Jesus, who was waiting for them.
“Why are you sad Jesus,” said one of the smallest looking up at Him and taking his hand as she noticed tears in His eyes.
As He wiped His eyes, Jesus knelt down on one knee so He could look at her face to face. He wanted to welcome them to heaven with a smile so they wouldn’t sense any sadness and with open arms so they knew they would now be safe forever.
“I’m not sad,” Jesus answered, trying to shelter them from the truth of a world gone partially mad as their parents had done for several years before. “I am just so happy that you have come to see me in my house today.”
The boys ran about a bit and shouted as they normally do in the schoolyard while the girls stood close by Jesus.
As Jesus watched them, He felt something was wrong. He looked around and counted. There were only 19. There should have been 20. Where was the last one?
“He’s still on the bus,” someone said, knowing what Jesus was looking for.
“Stay here, I’ll be right back,” He said to the group and He boarded the bus. In the back row was a lone child sitting there looking out the window watching the others play.
“Don’t you want to come out and be with the other children?” Jesus asked as he sat down next to the boy.
The boy nodded yes but didn’t move.
“Is something bothering you?” asked Jesus.
The boy gave a shrug that meant something somewhere between yes, no, and I don’t know.
“Come on,” said Jesus as He put his arm around the boy. “Please, tell me what’s wrong.”
“My mommy and daddy are going to miss me,” he said quietly.
“I know,” said Jesus, “we all miss people we love after they are gone from our lives.”
“But why do they have to leave? Why did I have to leave and come here?” The boy asked.
“Do you know how your parents watched over you and took care of you while you were with them?”
The boy nodded.
“Well, now it’s time for you to watch over them and take care of them from here. They are going to need to feel how strong you are and how happy you are being here with me.”
“They will know that?”
“Yes they will.”
The boy thought for a while and his mood seemed to lighten a bit.
“Do they know I’m here?” He asked again in a little different way to gain a little more reassurance.
“Of course they do and that makes them know you are safe now.”
“But they will still miss me,” stated the boy.
“They will.” Jesus and the boy just sat quietly for a few minutes and Jesus said, “do you remember when your Grammy went to heaven?”
The little boy nodded.
“Well, she came to be with me and my Dad.”
The little boy looked up at Him.
“You were sad and missed your Grammy then didn’t you?” Jesus asked.
The little boy nodded.
“What did your mom tell you then?”
“She told me that Grammy went to be with God and Jesus and that she wasn’t sad there so we shouldn’t be sad either. She said that Grammy was going to be happy and that we might miss her but we should be happy that she is with…” the boy paused for a minute and looked up at Jesus. As if a light went on in the boys mind, he smiled and pointed at Jesus and said, “You.”
“That’s right she is with me,” Jesus said with a smile and a little reassuring squeeze around the boy’s shoulders and said, “hey, look who’s here.”
The boy looked up and at the front of the bus stood an older lady.
“Grammy!” The boy shouted. He jumped up and ran into her arms. “What are you doing here?”
“I came to say hi,” she said as she gave him a big hug. “Poppy’s here too and can’t wait to see you.”
She took the boys hand and led him off the bus.
“Why don’t you go play with the other boys and girls now,” the grandmother said. “We’ll see each other again really soon.”
“Promise?” asked the boy.
“Promise,” said the grandmother as the boy ran off to meet the others.
When Jesus got off the bus, He noticed that the girls had joined the boys, playing and running around in the flowers that filled the fields around them.
Jesus watched them for a few minutes, lost in the joy of the children’s laughter.
“Come on,” said Jesus as He started walking up a path that led towards and over the top of a nearby hill. “Do you want to meet my Dad?”
The children whooped and hollered as they ran to catch up to Him. As they did, tears again came to Jesus’ eyes.
The tears came from sadness because evil had brought these twenty to him much sooner than they should have come. But, the tears also came out of joy as He watched the 20 running through the fields of heaven playing with the vigor of unbridled youth. He continued to walk with them as their laughter filled the air like songbirds singing on a warm spring day making heaven seem just a little bit fuller this day.
The 20 will forever be children living in God’s house as they, now, take their turn watching over those they left behind.