“Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the Kingdom of God.” Mark 10:14
The year was 1954.
Clara raised her three children in the apartment above the garage while Hartman, her husband, ground out hours of labor establishing a business below. Most weeks the help was paid more than the boss.
Late at night with their three little ones tucked into bed, the two of them sat at the kitchen table and calculated income by lamplight. Barely enough. Just like her depression-era childhood when her family of nine gathered around a table to eat popcorn and milk. The only food in the house. Giving up was not in Clara’s genes.
Hartman shouldered another day’s work. Clara prayed and sang while she cooked, cleaned, and loved her babes. At dusk, she heard her children’s prayers.
“Dear Jesus.” Six year old Bruce’s innocent voice diffused a warmth that radiated her heart, setting it aglow. “Dear Jesus, we need more money.” The word had gotten out. “Please give Daddy one hundred thousand dollars.”
Bruce finished his prayer and crawled between the sheets. “That’s lots of money, huh, Momma?”
“Really, sweetie, it’s not a lot of money, not with what your Daddy is trying to do.”
Another day passed. Clara spent it deep in thought. God, I know you can answer my little boy’s prayer, but how?
Another night. Another bedtime.
“Dear Jesus, Daddy needs lots and lots of money. Please give him a million, zillion dollars.” Bruce had been thinking his own thoughts.
His eyes, full of trust, opened. His earnest face turned to hers. “I know Jesus can answer my prayer, Momma. I know he can.”
“When Jesus gives us this money where do you want him to put it?” Perhaps logic would prepare him for disappointment. Prepare her.
“Oh, he can put it back by the rose-bush. Back in the property behind the garage.” He waved his hand. “Back there.” Catching his hand, she kissed right over his grubby fingernails and hugged her only son goodnight.
The year was 2009.
Bruce hunkered over a sheaf of estate documents, wills and such, with the names of Clara and Hartman written all over them. Both parents gone within one year. Gone, yet the impact of their full lives on their loved ones, the prayers they had answered for students struggling to get an education, and the endless donations and personal time they had spent for the good of others would never be forgotten.
Bruce sighed as he leafed through the papers and shouldered this new responsibility. It was huge, but giving up was not in his genes.
A lease contract caught his eye. One with a substantial, steady flow of income on a piece of what was now his and his sisters’ property. His parents had bought it when he was six or seven. He couldn’t remember.
“Want to buy this piece of land behind your garage?” Their neighbor had asked his dad. “Just make the payments and in a few years, you’ll have credit and can get a loan to finish the purchase.”
Bruce took off his glasses and brushed the moisture from his eyes. Like a child at his mother’s knee, he reached out in humble trust.
“That was your answer, wasn’t it, God? That piece of property, back behind the rosebush, that land was your answer. Never thought of it before, but right now, when I need it most, you remind me. You open my eyes. Now I see just how you answered a little boy’s prayer.”
“Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” Mark 10:15