J. J. LeVan
His Jesus Started With "t"
Updated: Mar 11, 2022
We had just finished singing the hymns in church and were getting seated for the special music before the sermon began, when I noticed an 8-year-old Blake intently staring ahead. I had decided that he was hyper-focused on the singers of the songs, but then realized that he continued staring straight ahead even as our pastor took his place for the sermon.
"What do you see?" I whispered.
Without breaking his gaze, he said, “t”.
He had always been obsessed with his letters from the very beginning of his journey. He began spelling at an early age. It was never uncommon to walk into the living room to find the words, “sesamestreetmrrogersneighborhoodzaboomafoo” spelled out on the carpet in colorful, magnetic letters.
I scanned for the letter "t" somewhere on the stage. It took me quite a few moments to realize that the large wooden figure attached to the wall at the front of the church, the cross, was, in his little mind, actually also the lower case letter "t".
“Oh! Yes. The cross looks like a "t"! You are right! That’s the cross. Jesus died on that cross for our sins. Jesus died, but then He came back just for us! Yes! That cross does look like a "t"!
For the next few weeks, I followed his lead and tried to help correlate the meaning of the cross to his letter "t", which we had been pointing out at every church that we passed in town. It was hard to tell if our words were making any sense to him and it seemed that I had been rambling on for nothing…until the day at Kroger.
Grocery shopping with 3 young children is always an adventure. They scamper around like squirrels hoping to gather nuts for winter. At this point on our Autism journey, Blake was still overstimulated by the lights, sounds, and smells of stores, so frustrations were higher as he would “squawk” loudly whenever triggered. Usually, by the time we had reached the checkout line, we were all usually exhausted and ready to get out of the store.
On that Kroger day, we all arrived at the checkout and I began hurriedly plunking all the produce, snacks, and cereals on the conveyor. The children were rifling through all the candy bars aptly placed at their eye level when Blake suddenly became unusually quiet. I was actually feeling quite thankful and had just about emptied my cart when I heard him boldly say in a rather harsh way:
You could’ve heard a pin drop.
People around us stopped moving about, the clerk glanced sideways at me and I could tell there were fresh eyes now staring at our little pod. I was sure that their thoughts were judging my (obviously heathen) child. I slowly turned around to find my son standing in a silent spotlight. I’m not exactly sure what my face was saying when I looked down at him dumbfoundedly. But then, in a slightly more dampened tone and to my horror, he said it again!
He dramatically lifted his tiny, little index finger into the air and pointed at something behind me. I slowly turned around to see a new cost-saving sign hanging just over my head and there it was. Smack dab in the middle of that sign, was a lower case "t" printed in GIANT, BOLD FONT.
I snorted quietly to myself, grinned, and put my head down.
All by himself, he had found the cross of Jesus. With the gates now flung wide open, I started back in on my ramble, not looking at anyone around us: "Yes! You’re right! That "t" looks like a cross! Like the one that Jesus died on for our sins…."
I had suddenly become a Kroger evangelist. I quickly paid for our groceries, proudly lead my scandalous, little troop out of the store, and took them home. That was the first time he ever uttered the beautiful name of Jesus.
Unbeknownst to me, this little man had been listening, looking, and ready for Jesus and the cross. He just found it in a place most unexpected and it wasn't in church. What these many years with this young man, it has become more and more clear that input>output.
Keep sharing Jesus. You just never know who might be listening.
"Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night."
Deuteronomy 6:6-8 The Message