I remember when Tristen decided that he wished to make a formal profession of his faith in Jesus Christ. Randy was leaving for Afghanistan in April of 2009, and in March we were on our way to the VFW meeting in Bellville, Texas and Tristen and his sisters were riding with me, and Randy and our son Brian were in the other car. Tristen was asking all kinds of questions about where Randy would be, and what he would be doing. Then he paused and asked, "Nana how are we going to keep Papa Randy from getting killed in that war?" He was seven then. The answer came pretty easily for me. I told him we couldn't, but that we could pray and ask the Keeper of the Stars to protect him. He told me he really didn't know how to pray. I explained that prayer was just conversation with God, just talking to Him and telling Him or asking him for whatever we wanted to. He kept insisting that he didn't know how, and then I heard the real reason for the hesitance in his praying. In that sweet innocence that is a child's, when I asked him if he had ever asked Jesus into his heart he replied, "No, and I would like to get that taken care of." I listened and heard as earnest a prayer as I have ever heard, as he sought to enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
I have watched Tristen live, in the more than three years since then, and his life is a testimony to the reality of that profession of faith. While he was visiting this past week-end, I noticed at one point that he appeared extremely troubled. As I often do with him, and he does with me, like good friends will do, I asked him what was wrong. He answered "nothing," which he and I both knew really wasn't the truth. So I went to him, hugged him close, (he is of the age that he still lets me do that whenever I want or need to,) and my love for him pulled a new answer out. He said, "I can't tell you, it is too terrible." I spent several minutes trying to persuade him he would feel better when he told me, and that he knew I would never tell anyone if he didn't want me to. He said "you will be mad." The tears were flowing by now and he was trembling as I told him, that I could see his distress, and I certainly would not be mad. By now he was sobbing. I told him, "well if you can't tell me Tristen, tell the Lord." He sobbed, "He can't do anything about it either, it's already done now, no one can help." I told him as much as I love him, God loves him more, and He already knew what he had done, and God could fix anything. That did it, he blurted out in distress, "Nana, I stepped on a frog and killed it and it wasn't an accident." As I sighed in relief as quietly as I could, I told him that God loved him and all he had to do was ask forgiveness. He was so distressed that he kept on saying, "there is nothing God can do, that frog is dead." I had to explain to him again, that with God nothing is impossible.
One of the children's favorite activities on summer evenings is to catch the little toads that come out at night to eat bugs. They are always gentle, and it is a catch and release kind of event. Tristen loves all animals and creatures and is gentle and loving with them. At Christmas he caught a lizard at the ranch, got a terrarium and the lizard continues to live happily ever after with him. I have had to advise him that lizards do not live a long time, and he will have to understand that his lizard is a short term pet, for I foresee a bit of sadness coming with this little creature of God that has brought so much pleasure to Tristen's whole family.
So as I tried to comfort him by telling how important he was to God, that God had taught him a valuable lesson with the little frog, and that the frog had a good and purposeful life, he listened. I told him of the two sparrows sold for a farthing, and yet how God says he is worth so much more than many sparrows... or frogs. As I explained that God could make frogs all day long, or even bring the one back to life he a killed, I asked how I could help him make this better. He told me he wanted to bury the frog, so we got the headlamp and went out to bury the frog.
He got a shovel from the barn, and we went to the far side of the barn where the frogs, (actually the are toads,) congregate under the guard light every night. Tristen could not find the dead frog. He said, "Nana, I left it right here! Do you think he got eaten by a snake?" I told him that snakes only eat live food. He said, "Maybe one of the cats got it." There were none around, as they were all sitting on the steps with the girls, and had been since before we came outside after our discussion. We looked high and low... I hesitated, and then suggested, "You know, as I told you, nothing is impossible with God." He looked at me and said, "That isn't it Nana." He insisted on continuing the search for awhile. Finally he just dug a hole in one of my flower beds, then covered it, and finally took wooden sticks from the craft box and made a cross for the grave.
The rest of the evening every once in awhile he would look at me, and without exchanging a word, we would both wonder about Tristen's frog. I am still pondering if somewhere on the ranch now, there hops a little toad, resurrected by The Living God to ease the aching heart of a child who loves Him so. What do you think?