He was one of those kids that always seemed to be at the tale end of everyone’s jokes. His red hair and freckles revealed his Scandinavian heritage, and because red hair wasn’t very common, it somehow was a target for little raging bulls that wanted to charge.
“Buster” was reserved, quiet and slow to action; but if one was to engage him in a conversation, he could talk forever. “Buster” was my 2nd grade classmate and he had a lunch box just like mine.
Every day we had to take our lunch boxes to the lunch room and put them on the shelf that was set aside for our 2nd grade class. I knew “Buster’s” lunch box was the same as mine, so I was careful each day to make sure I grabbed the right one when it was time for lunch.
I tried to be the first one there, because I wasn’t so confident that "Buster" would be as careful. One day he beat me to the boxes; and sure enough as I passed him at the table on the way to find my box, I saw it there in front of "Buster" as he opened it up. I had placed something in there that I didn’t want anyone to see. It was a little doll or something, that I had placed there…(keep in mind, this was 2nd grade). As I walked up to him, he was holding the doll out for all the class to see. “A doll??” He questioned, still not comprehending that this wasn’t his box.
In my embarrassment, holding up that doll was all it took to set me off. I angrily grabbed that lunch box out from in front of him and snapped, “This one isn’t yours!”
What I knew would come to fruition, did. He had mistaken my lunch box for his, and it couldn’t have been at a worse time…the time when I had placed something in there that I didn’t want everyone to see.
I laugh at that, now…but what isn’t so funny, was my disdain for "Buster". "Buster" was eventually held back to a different grade and I soon lost track of him.
However, just a few years ago, I was surprised to see “Buster” at my church! He came up to me and gave me the warmest greeting and told me who he was. "I would have known you anywhere," I told him. "You look just the same!" He does! We reminisced about our grade school years, and he informed me that out of our church of more than a thousand people there are about 4 of us that attend there that graduated high school locally within the same time frame. Now every Sunday, I seek out “Buster” to say hello.
One Sunday, we sat next to each other. During worship, I stopped for a moment to listen to him sing. As I listened, tears sprung forth when I heard how beautifully he sang. When I was reminded of the little boy I didn’t care for; God showed me how much He did! It wasn’t a lesson in being nice to people; it wasn’t even a lesson to help me learn that God loves each of His children. Of course we all know that. To me, this day, it was a lesson in God caring enough about me to give me a second chance to show kindness to a boy I once didn’t like.
God allowed me 40 years later to see the gift He had bestowed on this brother in Christ - the boy that was just as important as all those other children in our little school, but few stopped to recognize.
“Buster!” I whispered to him. “I didn’t know you had such a beautiful singing voice!”
“Yeah?” He shrugged as he told me half disgutedly, “Mom made me take singing lessons when I was little.”
I didn’t know.