“Norton” is the rudest child I have ever met,” I commented to my coworker in the school cafeteria.
“Yes, he is a challenge,” she admitted.
Somehow, I determined, I wanted to see a glint of happiness in those sad, angry eyes. I tried, whenever possible, to have the one fruit he liked available for him whenever he came through line. I let him know I was trying to watch out for him and one day I did catch a smile after he passed me. He even became more generous with the word, “thanks”—mumbled but audible.
It’s just his personality, I thought, until I witnessed the manager telling him firmly that he could not take his favorite sandwich as a supplement to the basic meal because his bill was too high and his parents had not responded to her notices.
“But my dad is out of town,” Norton protested. “I told you he would be gone for a while, but he will pay the bill when he comes back.”
School policy is school policy but the hurt in the boy’s eyes troubled me. No sneak smile with the favorite fruit today. Later, I learned that Norton was dealing with the breakup of his family. Even “friendly” divorces leave scars.
Didn’t Need My Money
I don’t work at the school every day, but my next day on duty I tucked a couple dollars in my pocket. If the bill hadn’t been paid, I intended to give Norton the money for the extra item he wanted. But he didn’t need my money. As he strode confidently to pick his favorite item from the shelf, he called back to the manager: “I can have one of these today. My father paid the bill.”
I didn’t see an outright smile, but the triumph in his voice and the spring in his step told volumes about his heart. The parent who had claimed him in the custody battle had come home.
We all, like Norton, have been caught in a “custody battle”—the battle for souls between Christ and Satan. While we are living on Satan’s territory, planet Earth, Satan has no intention of paying our debts or making us happy. We, too, have a Father who has fought the battle for full custody of us, His created children, and now His redeemed children. Our Savior is away, preparing a place for us right now, but He will be back and all of our debts will have been marked “PAID!”
I glimpsed joy in a youngster’s face just because he knew Dad had returned and dealt with his troubles.
Revelation depicts Christ’s redemptive action for us: “And they sang a new song, You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals; because you were slaughtered; at the cost of blood you ransomed for God persons from every tribe, language, people and nation” (Revelation 5:9).
How can we not know joy at such a Redeemer!