It started out like any other day for Artie. He awoke to the sun shining in his bedroom window, the dogs running to greet him, mom and dad waiting to welcome him into another day of all the good things that were in store for him. Just an ordinary day, it seemed Ė or was it?
Artie was a great kid. Cute, smart, funny, ever so loving and compassionate. He was such a young boy yet he seemed to be so grown up. Listening to him talk you might wonder how someone so young could speak so intelligently. It was easy to forget his age and oftentimes his parents expected more from him than someone his age should be expected to do or know. It was easy to get caught up in this mindset and he himself often thought he was much older in wisdom them his years allowed for. Some might ask, how did this happen? How did he grow up so fast? He hasnít --- he is still a little boy like all other little boys Ė playing all the fun games kids do, getting into trouble for silly things, trying to act "big" while at the same time wanting to stay "small". Small is safe. After all, you donít have to take care of yourself Ė thatís what mommy and daddy are for. They provide for all of a childís needs so they can grow up to be independent and ready to face all the world has to offer them. They protect kids from the things that might hurt them. They give children the freedom to run and be kids, exploring the world from a fresh perspective Ė one of awe and admiration for all the wondrous things that God has created. They love them when they are good and even when they arenít. Hopefully the children are teaching their parents as much about stopping to enjoy the little things in life as parents are teaching them about growing up. But sometimes life doesnít seem fair and it makes it tough to be a little boy at times.
Artie had been through some rough times over the past year. His mommy had always been home with him since he was a baby. They played together, read together, went on lots of outings. They were always on the run -- doing this or doing that. But they were together and having fun. So it was hard for him when his mommy suddenly wasnít able to do all of the fun things she had done with him before. His mommy had a bad disease and it made all of her bones and joints in her body hurt. Some days she felt fine and could do things with him and then without any warning she would hurt so much she couldn't do anything. As a little boy this was hard to understand because he couldnít see any cuts or bruises on her so how could she hurt?
Then his mommy had to go to the hospital and have some operations to fix some of the bones that hurt. Artie wasnít happy, he was a scared little boy. So many thoughts crossed his mind Ė too many for a boy his age to ever have to think about. But, just like his daddy had told him, God took care of his mommy and brought her home from the hospital. This time he could understand the pain because she had stitches and braces on her bones and couldnít walk. He became her "little helper", always making sure she was taken care of and that she wouldnít hurt herself again. What a blessing he was to his mother. Just as things were getting back to normal, it happened again. Back to the hospital went mommy, leaving Artie to wonder some more. On and on this happened for almost an entire year. Through it all he tried to be brave and act like a "brave little man", but he was still just a little boy.
How his mommyís heart would break each time she couldnít do something for him or with him. How much she longed to run and jump with him. She prayed daily for the day that it would all be over and life could get back to normal Ė or at least to let Artie just go back to being a little boy and to help him let go of the burden of trying to be so brave when he was facing so many obstacles. Through it all the family held onto their faith. Faith that God would care for them and protect them. Faith that there would be an end to the seemingly endless surgeries. Faith that God would watch over and protect Artie and keep him from becoming to grown up too fast. Faith to know that God would provide people to do the things that had to be done for them. Faith that knowing in the end there will be no more pain and that when they are all in heaven together someday, they would run and jump faster and higher than ever Ė all together. Faith Ė a word so easy to say but sometimes so hard to live out.
This particular day, Artie decided he would have an adventure outside with his precious puppy. He ate breakfast and his mommy bundled him up before sending him outside with a kiss and a prayer for a safe and fun time playing.
As Artie and his trusted dog, Luke were playing pirate out in the yard, Luke suddenly stopped. Artie looked over to see what was the matter and he saw a sight that left him speechless. For years he had watched as a family of eagles would fly over his house. With his mommy and daddy they would try to follow the eagles path to see where they went but they were never able to find out where the eagles final destination was. Yet right here before his very eyes was the most majestic, awe inspiring eagle he had ever seen. Not only was it in his yard, almost within reaching distance, but it seemed as if Luke and the eagle were talking to each other. More amazing, Artie seemed to be able to understand what they were saying. But how could this be? "Dogs and eagles arenít friends and I donít speak the animal language", he thought to himself.
After a few moments hesitation, he decided to take a chance and very slowly he walked over to the pair. "Excuse me, Luke would you like to tell me who your new friend is?", Artie asked. He hadnít really expected any answer as he thought he had been dreaming. So when Luke turned around and said "This is Ernie. He is one of the eagles that you have been watching for the past few years.", Artieís mouth just fell open. Artie had never heard Luke speak before. What was happening? Was he dreaming all of this? It took a few minutes for Artie to realize that Luke really was talking to him. What a blast this was!
For such a long time he had wanted to know what Luke thought and now was his chance to find out. But Luke and Ernie had other ideas in mind for their adventures with Artie. Luke had been talking with Ernie for awhile now and trying to get he and Artie together so that Artie could have a day of all consuming fun, fun, fun and more fun. Luke told Artie that he couldnít go along for the ride because he was just to big for his friend Ernie to carry but that Artie was just the right size.
Artie climbed aboard Ernieís back and held on tightly to his wings (after all, he had never flown on an eagleís back before so he was a bit nervous). But it only took a few minutes before he felt totally comfortable. Ernieís wings were so beautiful. He had never felt anything so soft before. He was so relaxed he almost forgot that he was soaring up, up, up into the clear blue skies. It seemed as if Ernie were trying to reach the heavens they were flying so high.
Artie and Ernie flew all over the country. They flew over the mountains, the valleys, the beaches, the cities and the small towns. They flew high. They flew low. They flew fast and they flew slow. They flew from here to there and back again. They just kept flying. All the while they talked of how beautiful everything was and how wonderful God must be to create so many gorgeous places for us to live in. Ernie kept asking Artie if he was getting tired (as they had been flying for hours) but to Artieís surprise he wasnít even the slightest bit tired. He felt as if he could go on flying forever.
After they had flown for awhile Ernie started to ask Artie what had been bothering him lately. Artie talked on and on and told him everything he had be going through and how sad some of it made him. He told Ernie that he wished he could just wish his mommy better and take care of everything so she didnít hurt anymore. He just didnít know what to do.
Ernie thought for a moment and then he said to Artie " I want to share a little something special with you. Godís word has something to say about almost everything you can think of, so listen up. God says: "But those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint." (Isaiah 40:31). Artie, do you know what God is trying to tell you with those words?"
Artie thought for a minute and then said he thought he did but would really like to hear what Ernie thought it meant. So Ernie said "God wants each of us to know that no matter what is happening in our lives, He is always there for us. All we have to do is to hope (or wait) on His timing and when He is ready He will give us all we need to handle lifeís problems."
Artie still seemed to be somewhat unsure of Ernieís explanation, so Ernie decided to try another tactic. "Letís take us for example. Today, God told me that I should stop in your yard and pick you up. When you climbed on my back and we flew for hours, did you get tired at all?"
Artie laughed and said, "Of course not, I wasnít doing the flying, you were."
"Exactly" replied Ernie. "Just as I did the flying for you today, God wants to be the one doing the flying for each of us every day. He wants us to place all of our cares and worries in His hands and He will take care of us. He says He will lift us up as an eagle flies and when we are soaring He will lighten our load and help us to feel better. Artie, donít worry. God is watching out for you and your mommy. All you need to do is to pray about whatever is bothering you and God will help you to feel better. He will take care of your mommy for you too. Just remember, even if she canít do all the things she used to, God will help her to do other things for you and with you. And the best surprise of all is that someday when we all get to heaven, your mommy will never hurt again. God promises us that and God always keeps His promises."
With those words, Artie felt a weight lifting off of him and he just wanted to shout for joy. He ran over to Ernie and wrapped his arms around his neck and told him how much he loved him. Then he said he had to go, he wanted to run inside and say a special prayer with his mommy that she could fly like an eagle just like he did. With that, he was off and running and Ernie was off to find his next special friend to help.
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