Dear Jesus,

If you knew about something that was locked up in a cage, something big and beautiful that was locked away unfairly, for no good reason, and you had the keys to the cage, would you let it go?

Because I want to tell you about a little boy I've come to know at school. You hear about him in my prayers. Eli does not have a healthy home life and although Mom is in the picture, a nurturing person in his young life is seemingly absent. Most days he comes to school in the same clothes as yesterday. He brings canned food for a snack which he can't open on his own and therefore doesn't eat. Our cafeteria feeds him breakfast and lunch during the week so we know he has been fed on school days. Eli's younger sister has a comb and toothbrush her teacher keeps in the classroom because she does not have them at home. The teachers buy Halloween costumes for them to have for our upcoming parties so they will not be left out.

I believe Mom is doing the best she can in the brokenness of life but these children nevertheless experience profound neglect. Outside of school, Eli and his sister are very much on their own.

Eli keeps to himself most of the day and spends much of the time refusing to do his schoolwork. He acts out at the bus stop and often finds himself in quite a bit of trouble. He does not know how to handle his emotions until it comes out of in uncontrollable ways. When he is doing his school work he writes about his remote control car being the most important thing to him…the only thing there for him in his life. His emotional attachment has been modeled off an absence of nurture. Each day it is teaching him the message that he not important, not seen, not lovable. Why would he not be checked out?

It feels like an impossible task but in Your name we can do all things. The message prevails until he sees a teachers smile. Someone who stops and notices him. While he might find himself in trouble, someone who still believes in him regardless of trouble. Someone who looks for and finds ways to show him that fact. Because this is You Jesus. This is exactly what You did on this earth with people. You loved them, no matter their Tiger.

In a perfect world Eli would not experience the absence of nurturing but we do not live in a perfect world without you Jesus. His development is already deeply impacted in many ways. His relationship to people around him is already impacted too. He already feels like an outcast.

People will undoubtedly disapprove of Eli as these realities continue to form and shape his life. But that does not mean he is any less loved by You.

That remote control car…it may be the only source of love this little boy has and to take it from him would be devastating. It may be the only bridge to your love. Affirming him where he is at or not is crucial. Another Christian may be the only bridge from that remote control car to you Jesus and that link is fragile.

The best way to show Eli Christ's love is through his experience with me each day. To accept and love him exactly where he is at, not with rules and regulations to which he could never attain. To do that I can not harbor an opinion that could jeopardize the bridge to the key. Because the bridge to the key is more important. It might be the only time he sees Jesus. That is a fragile truth to which I will either point him toward Christ or drive him farther away.

We finished A Tiger Rising this week in class and here is the great part about the book…Eli is not the only one dealing with a locked up tiger. We all have some kind of Tiger…just depends on what the cage is for us.

Why would we ever begin to regulate another locked Tiger and its freedom
when we have our own to be dealt with? Other than to do everything possible to help them find the key?

The locksmith of my cage is Jesus. The locksmith of Eli's cage is Jesus. Even if we seem to know the right key combination well…we could be wrong.

Death is the final cage to be unlocked from in this life. Jesus absolutely has the keys and let's it free.

Let's not be the ones who damage the link to the key.

Jesus asks…

What is this Tiger for you?

You have been bought and paid for by Christ, so you belong to him—be free now from all these earthly prides and fears. 1 Corinthians 7:23 (TLB).  

Loved By Grace,