Lifting Up Jesus

By Debbonnaire Kovacs

Michael Arthur Patterson ran around with his hands out, laughing. Running into a body, he grabbed hold, calling out, “I got Susannah! Susannah’s it!”

“No fair!” Susannah complained, laughing too. “You’re way too good at this!”

Blind Man’s Bluff was Mike’s favorite game. His friends would find a good, clear, grassy area and make sure there was nothing he could trip on. Then they spun him around three times and let him go. He always caught someone within very few minutes, and he always knew instantly who it was.

Susannah had to wear a blindfold, unlike Mike. He listened carefully to her running steps, laughter, and panting, and managed to stay out of her way even though he couldn’t see her. School was out, and summer was here!

One day, Mike and Aunt Rose went to Susannah’s house to pick up some dried flower arrangements and craft items. Susannah took Mike out to the barn to see the baby goats, which were big now and didn’t live in the same pen with their mother anymore. Susannah was training them to walk on a leash, so she could take them to the county fair in August. She let Mike lead one, and it pulled him so hard he fell over in the pasture. Then the goat started to chew on his hair, while he and Susannah laughed and laughed.

On Tuesdays, Mr. Fontaine still came to Lilies of the Field and bought a white rose bud. He usually stayed and talked a while. He and Aunt Rose were becoming good friends since she had begun helping him clean his house once every week. Mr. Fontaine could still be grouchy, but Mike knew these days he only grumbled out of habit. The old man was changing. But he still wouldn’t even visit church with them, although he seemed to like it when the kids occasionally went to his house and put on a puppet show or sang some songs.

Mike had been thinking a lot about the lesson this week. Ms. Kimoto had shown them John 3, where Jesus said the snake lifted up in the wilderness represented Himself. “When we lift up Jesus in our daily lives, He will draw others to Himself. It’s not our job to convince them. Only to lift Him up.” That’s what Ms. Kimoto had said. Mike wondered how he could lift up Jesus to Mr. Fontaine. He and his family and friends tried to show Jesus’ love by their actions. Did that hold Jesus up? Or did Mr. Fontaine just see people trying to be nice?

He listened to Aunt Rose and Mr. Fontaine talking. Suddenly he had an idea. “Aunt Rose, I think we should have a picture of Jesus in here. Is there room on the wall?”

“Sure, there’s room. It’s a nice idea. What made you think of it?”

“I just think we should show Jesus to people, that’s all.”

“How do you know what He looks like?” Mr. Fontaine asked.

“We don’t,” Mike admitted. “It’s the idea that counts. I suppose we’ll all be shocked when we see Him in heaven and find out He doesn’t look anything like we imagined Him.”

“But you won’t even be able to see this picture!”

“That’s OK. You never know—maybe my imagination of Him will be more like He really looks!” Mike laughed.

Three days later, Mike was surprised to hear Mr. Fontaine’s voice when the bell tinkled and the front door opened. “Hey, Mr. Fontaine! Is it Tuesday again already?”

“Nope. I guess I can come and visit my friends if I want to, can’t I?”

“Sure! Come and see our new picture of Jesus. Dad just put it up this morning.”

He walked with Mr. Fontaine to the sitting area and wished he could see the old man’s face. He felt Mr. Fontaine’s hand on his shoulder.

“I came to bring you something, Mike.”

“Me?” Mike was surprised. Mr. Fontaine took his hand and put something in it. It was a flat rectangle, bigger than a book. Mike felt it curiously.

“It’s different from my usual carvings,” Mr. Fontaine said gruffly. “Here.” He took Mike’s hand and guided it. “This is called a relief carving. It’s like a picture. Here’s the frame around the edge, and here in the middle is the picture, but it’s carved, so you can ‘see’ it, too. This is the top. Can you tell what it is?”

Mike felt all over the picture carefully. He could feel a rounded outline, with lines carved into it, like the mane on the little carved horse Mr. Fontaine had once given him. Within this rounded outline he found two indentations and in the middle something that stuck out a little. “A face? It’s a face, isn’t it? This is the hair, and here are the eyes, and the nose, and . . . a beard?” Mike felt the picture some more, and a shiver went down his back. “Mr. Fontaine?” He hesitated, hardly daring to ask. “Is this a picture of Jesus?”

“Guess I did a good job, then.” Mr. Fontaine was gruffer than ever, and Mike knew by now that meant he felt something deeply. Mr. Fontaine laughed his rusty laugh. “Or maybe your imagination and mine are alike, eh?”

Mike felt as if his happy smile was so big it would split his face in half. “Maybe! Mr. Fontaine, this is so great! What made you do this?” His fingers were still running over and over the picture. He almost felt as if he could “see” Jesus as well as he could “see” Aunt Rose or Dad with his hands.

“I wanted you to be able to see Jesus too.”

Just then, Aunt Rose came in. “Oh, Mr. Fontaine! That’s beautiful! May I see it, Mike?”

Mike let go of the picture and turned to reach out his hand. He felt Mr. Fontaine take it. “This is the nicest thing you could possibly have done! Thank you!”

“Mike?” Aunt Rose’s voice sounded strange. “This may sound funny, but . . . this picture looks kind of like you! Only grown up. Anyway, I think so. Don’t you think so, Mr. Fontaine?”

Mr. Fontaine harrumphed. “Does it? Well, maybe Mike reminds me of Jesus!”

And he left before they could say another word.

Mike couldn’t have spoken anyway. He could hardly breathe.

“Oh, Mike!” Aunt Rose sounded as if she might cry. “Did you hear that? He does see Jesus in our love. He does!”

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