Green eyes, peeking out of a round freckled face, were wide with hope. Superheroes were his anchor. He’d known abuse. He’d known abandonment. He’d also known assurance and faithful love and care. Somewhere, someone would make things right and safe again.
Then in Bible school he was thrilled to see the likenesses of his champions. There they were: Spiderman, Ironman, Superman, The Hulk, Captain America. And Jesus was with them! He was a Superhero, too?
I sat down next to him and asked him which superhero he liked best.
“I like Superman! He can fly! He’s strong! He can see through things! He gets all the bad guys!”
“Do you want to be like Superman?” I continued.
“Yes! I want to get all the bad guys!” He doubled his fists and snarled in his most vicious pixy voice. I was interested that he didn’t wish to fly or have X-ray vision, but what he wanted was someone to get all the bad guys. My heart pinched to know someone this young longing so for justice.
“I know someone who’s stronger than Superman and already got some of the bad guys. In fact, he said that he’s going to get every single bad guy AND that he’s going to let all of his friends live with him!”
“Really?” He froze. “Who?”
“Before I tell you his name, I need to tell you that he’s not a superhero.” His face fell. Dropping his still clenched fists, he sensed that this might be uninteresting. “But he’s a real hero,” I added.
“You mean like a fireman?” he ventured.
“Even better than an awesome fireman. Even better than the bravest soldier or the toughest cop!”
“What does he do?” Curiosity was rising in him. “Can he fly?”
“Let me ask you something,” I ventured. “Is Superman real?”
Looking wary, he searched his soul knowing he wasn’t sure. “I don’t know.” He took the safe route.
“My friend is real. He really lived in a country called Israel. He was born way before Superman was on TV.” My young companion looked intrigued. I continued. “Also, he never made any mistakes, or forgot to keep his promises.” His wide green eyes locked on mine. He understood what a heroic thing it was to keep a promise. “And he really wants to be your friend and talk to you and help you know really important things. In fact, he really wants to be your very own forever friend.”
“Where is he?” Now he had to know my friend.
“When I tell you his name, I want you to remember that he is real…not just a pretend Superhero.”
“I will,” he solemnly whispered.
“My friend, and the greatest hero forever and ever, is named Jesus. He’s who wants to be your own forever friend. And Jesus promised that one day we won’t have to worry about any bad guys ever again.”
“Jesus said that?”
“Yes. Jesus is the most important hero. He keeps all his promises and he’s stronger than any superhero. And did you know that Jesus loves us more than even our family does. And I think those things are even better than flying or seeing through walls, or even beating up all the bad guys.”
“Stronger than Superman?”
“Well, Superman has to worry about Kryptonite…and Lex Luthor….”
“Oh, yeah,” he admitted.
“Jesus could make Kryptonite if he wanted to and it wouldn’t even touch him. And neither could Lex Luthor. Jesus even walked through a wall and walked on water! And one time, He even cured a man that had turned into a monster!” At that, my little companion scooted closer, nodding his head enthusiastically. I lowered my voice mysteriously and glancing in either direction, I continued. “But what he did that nobody else ever did– was defeat Death itself! First, he let the bad guys kill him. Then he let them bury him. Then got back up out of the grave just when the Devil thought he’d won! He beat the Devil bad!! And then he even said that if the bad guys wanted to change and have good hearts, he would help them if they would let him. That’s the kind of hero he is.”
“So, he is better than Superman,” he mused.
“Yes. And Jesus is a real person. Superman is just on TV. Jesus can be our real friend, and will someday take us away from all bad things. I like Him a lot better. I hope you learn all you can about Jesus so you can be Best Friends Forever, too, and grow up to be like him.”
I could tell that his young mind was full of new and exciting thoughts…and perhaps feeling a slight sense of loss about his well-dressed champions. There was one more thing.
“Have you ever gotten to talk to the real Superman or Ironman or any of those superheroes?” I was quiet and gentle now.
Looking down he paused, then shook his head dejectedly.
I called him by name and said, “Did you know you really can talk to Jesus. You can do it all by yourself, too. He can hear your thoughts and feelings. You can use words, but you don’t have to. I talk to him all the time. And he answers my prayers if I pay attention.” I smiled reassuringly and then said, “Hey! Why don’t you talk to him now? Just close your eyes and think what you want him to know. You don’t have to tell me because you’re not talking to me. Then one of these days, you’ll know what his answer is.” Then I touched his hand. “I won’t bother you. He’ll be so glad you came to him with your heart.”
I sat quietly as he closed his eyes and then bowed his head. After a short time, he opened his eyes and smiled. He stood, then, looking at me as if he was seeing me for the first time. He smiled and gave me a hug. “I want you to be my friend, too,” he whispered.
Then suddenly, words came to my mind as I hugged this precious child. “Let the little children come unto me, for of such is the Kingdom of God.” Matt 19:14.