"Auntie Jill?” His little boy’s voice came plaintively over the phone.
I smiled. That would be Caleb, my sister’s third son. “Yes, Caleb?”
“When am I going to see you again? I miss you!”
My heart melted. “Yes, sweetheart. I miss you too! But we’ll be seeing you again soon.”
Our busy schedule, plus the distance between our home and my sister’s, makes it difficult to get together as often as we’d like. Greg and I had an upcoming speaking appointment in North Carolina, so we planned to rent a cabin a few days before and spend some time together.
All four boys were waiting at the door of the cabin when we pulled up, eagerly jumping up and down. “Auntie Jill and Uncle Greg!”
We rushed in to give them hugs. When Caleb’s turn came, he said, “Auntie Jill, I’m so glad you’re here.”
Sometimes I imagine what Jesus thinks of us, as His children, and of me in particular.
I rumpled his hair. “Me too, buddy. Me too.”
Our two days together passed quickly. Climbing rocks along the creek, skipping stones across the water, chasing after a soccer ball, and finding the best places to play hide-and-seek—each activity was done with a little boy by my side, sticky fingers curled around mine.
The next afternoon my sister and I sat on the back deck, breathing in the mountain air and thankful for a brief moment of quiet to talk. She looked at me. “You know, Caleb really loves you.”
I smiled. “Yes, he’s precious.”
She shook her head. “Sometimes when he goes to bed at night he lies there and cries because he misses you so much.”
I felt a tightening in my chest. “Are you serious?”
“Yes,” she nodded. “He says he just cries because he loves you and misses you.”
How could one little 5-year-old heart hold so much love?
Our time together soon came to a close, but my sister’s words lingered in my mind. As I hugged the boys goodbye, Caleb spoke. “I want to be with you, Auntie Jill.”
I smiled through my tears. “I know, Caleb, but we’ll just look forward to the times we do have together.” It sounded lame, even as I spoke it, but the truth is, I didn’t know what to say.
Later, as Greg and I drove home, I thought of our nephews. Four boys. Alike, yet so different. I loved them all the same, yet they responded to me differently. My mind traveled to the disciple John. The one whom Jesus loved.
Did Jesus love him more than the others? Of course not.
What, then, made the difference? Perhaps John loved more deeply than the others.
Sometimes I imagine what Jesus thinks of us, as His children, and of me in particular. Do I passionately love Him? Do I cry because I miss Him so much? Do I long to be with Him always?
His answer will never be “Let’s just look forward to the times we do have together.” It will always be—I’m taking you home to live with Me. We’ll be together forever!
Jill Morikone is administrative assistant to the president of 3ABN, a supporting Adventist television network. She and her husband, Greg, live in southern Illinois and enjoy ministering together for Jesus.