She saw God in me

Published 6:15 pm Friday, July 19, 2019

By Nathan Decker

God gave me a high five!”

– Little girl leaving chapel at Grace’s Little Angels at High Street UMC

Pastors have big egos. I know we do. But nothing is more humbling than when a child looks to you for a connection to God. More than once, a parent has come up to me with this mischievous grin on their face indicating little Johnny or Janie has said something cute. “The other day, when we were about to start church service and you were away on vacation, our little boy looked around and said, ‘We can’t start yet, God’s not here!” Still another parent said, “We told her that we come to church to spend time with God… she thinks you’re God.”

I represent God. I know this when I walk into a meeting and I am asked to pray. I’m reminded of it when people refer to me as Reverend, Pastor or Preacher. I often wear a robe as my uniform setting me a part from the crowd and indicating to everyone what my role is. As adults, our brains have developed so that we can think abstractly and place our belief in someone we haven’t seen face to face. Concepts like faith, love and hope are ideas without flesh and bone attached to them. Not so much with the little monsters who come to chapel service at our church day care.

Each week, I have the honor of singing and preaching to 25-30 kids about God’s love. At the end of the service, I kneel down and invite the kids to come up for “high fives and hugs” before heading back to their classes or outside to the playground. I get a lot of hugs, high fives. Some of the boys and girls prefer fist bumps. One day, a shy little girl came up to me. She rarely spoke up when I asked questions. Her voice wasn’t the loudest. She often hid if I spoke to her. On that day she came up to me for a high five. I raised my hand, and smack! She hit it as hard as she could and then ran off to her teacher grinning as if she had just hit a homerun. I overheard her excited and out-of-breath little voice as she told the teacher, “God gave me a high five!”

I know I’m not God. I tell the kids that often. I’m just the guy who knows the guy. But she saw God in me. In a simple act of acceptance, she knew she was welcome. In a brief touch of our hands, she felt the joy of being loved. In our singing, she belonged and did her part. In our telling the stories of the Bible, she’s growing. I’m glad I’m not God, but I’m thrilled that she saw God in me.

Each of us has our part to play in the day to day. As disciples, we represent God. (Yeah, it’s not just the preachers.) Live in such that a way a 4-year-old thinks you are God. Love so deeply that a 3-year-old knows they can trust you and feel like they belong. Give high fives and hugs as a way to pass peace, hope and love on to the next generation. Let me see God in you. After all, it’s what Jesus would do.

Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children and live in love.”

– Paul in Ephesians 5:1-2a