This Is Dana!!
My wife and I have the great privilege of being the lead ministers of a wonderful, small church in a community in upstate New York. Our area is historically significant to the American Revolutionary War and it is located in the foothills of a vast wilderness area known as the Adirondack Mountains. The land is lush with vegetation, crisscrossed with rivers, covered with countless freshwater lakes and ponds. Most of all, the diversity of the people who live here, and specifically those we count as friends in our church, are the real stars in our universe. They are simply an amazing cross-cultural group that never ceases to put a smile on our face.
One of these is a “spiritual daughter” that God rescued from a life of welfare, poverty, sin and brokenness. By God’s grace she went from being an uneducated single mother, struggling to hold her head above water, to the store manager of a nationally known company who provides her with a good income, a retirement plan, health insurance, company benefits, job development on company time, company travel and recognition for her excellence as one of the youngest store managers at the ripe old age of 25. She is just a fireball of energy, encouragement and enthusiasm. In short, she is a walking miracle whom we love deeply.
Adding to her life of God-given blessing is her son, our “spiritual grandson” named Dana. Dana is a 6 year old whirlwind with a razor sharp mind that is all his own. He talks in an endless stream of insightful statements, makes keen observations and asks honest questions that are just infectious and arrest everyone’s attention. He moves at the speed of light, but never misses a thing. When Dana comes into a room, he looks around, his face lights up and very quickly his presence becomes known to all. He is an old soul in a child’s body that is filled to overflowing with the electricity of life and the endless curiosity of Leonardo Da Vinci. I just love this little boy to pieces because he is me 57 years ago!
The other day Dane saw me, ran up, gave me a big hug aground the legs, and looked at me with those big, wonder-filled eyes. His childlike expression told me the wheels were turning on the inside, and that could mean anything, good or bad. What I mean is, his words can be funny or filled with a painful honesty that can unnerve the bravest soldier. Once he hugged me on the neck and then, pulled back, looked right into my face and, with his cute little-boy nose all puckered up, said “Pastor, your breath smells”. I am sure those I prayed for that day were eternally grateful he had spoken that little revelation to me!
When our eyes met I knew something was bubbling up from his amazing little brain, and it would soon be flowing out of his mouth. So, I braced myself for his next insight on life, and sure enough, in a moment of paused silence, there it was in all it’s unrefined glory. He tipped his head to one side and I bent down near him. Then he put his hands on both sides of my face, looked deep into my eyes and said with an absolute childlike declaration: “Pastor, you are very thinkative”. The moment was soon over and he simply sped off to his next adventure.
Dana left me standing there holding back laughter, but still somewhat stunned and amazed. He had invented his own word that summed up my very essence in his mind. He had put all his keen observations of my adult life and ministry into that incredible child brain of his, and boiled them down to a single three syllable word. The funny thing is, he was absolutely right. Ask any of my friends, my colleagues or my wife and they will all tell you it’s true. There is no denying it. I am “thinkative”!
I believe we all need a Dana close at hand. We need that one person who has miraculously held onto their honesty and their sense of awe and wonder at just being alive. In these people, the invasion of this world, and it’s deadly lies, have not stolen the God-given innocence they were born with. They have not lost the joy of living and have refused to be warped by the pain inflicted upon them by this broken, selfish world. These people are like rare, perfect, flawless diamonds. They catch every ray of life-light that comes their way and have an ability to somehow reflect it back to us in a million beautiful colors. They grab our attention and take our thoughts away to grander things.
I have a number of such people in my life, and foremost among them are my beautiful wife Esther, Dana and Dana’s mother. These people bless and strengthen me when others have given up. They get my eyes off the hard times and move me past the broken promises. They walk with me beyond the disloyal people who pierce my heart, and they support me when others have left my side, and their assignment, for their own thoughtless purposes. They lift me up when I stumble, and they carry me when I can no longer walk. They are the real jewels in any crown I may acquire in this life.
In whatever phase of life you are going through right now, let me encourage you to look for your Dana’s. They are the one’s who hold onto childlike faith for you. They have an innocence of vision that can see right through your adult veneer. They are the ones who are excited to tell you what they see in you, and are honest enough to tell you both the good and the bad. The truth is, they don’t’ care if you are busy, rushed, hurt, pressured or distracted. They always look for you, and you know that when they see you, they light up and so do you.
Find your Dana’s and cherish them. These are the people who keep your heart tender, your life honest and your vision of yourself clean. It matters not that they are 57 years your junior or 50 years your senior. They are God’s gift of love and authentic life to you, and you must hear their words, and hold them close. Open your arms, your ear, your heart and your life to these treasured people, and you will never be the same. Push them away, and you have pushed away the hand of God that came to refine you. So my question is, will you push your Dana’s away and miss the wonders God is holding in reserve for your life? Hold your Dana’s close, and you will find the truth you need. More than that, you may also find your destiny as well!