He lost the love of his life. When his wife Mary died, Dan Peterson went into a deep depression. For six months, this 82-year-old widower of Augusta, Georgia, did very little except look out his window at the squirrels in his yard.
But one day at the grocery store, his life changed.
He was nearing the end of the canned food aisle when a four-year-old girl named Norah Wood, riding in the buggy as her mother, Tara, pushed it, randomly reached out to this “cranky old man” and said, “Hi old person! It’s my birthday!”
Mr. Dan stopped in his tracks, smiled, and said, “Well hello, little lady.” They continued chatting for a couple of minutes. Then Norah said she wanted to give Mr. Dan a hug. “So they posed together, and then they hugged each other like they were long lost friends,” said Tara.
“She zeroed in on him like a missile,” Tara explains. “And she didn’t want anything from him. She just wanted to make him feel loved and give him a hug.”
That exchange has led to a wonderful friendship. Tara takes her daughter Norah to see Mr. Dan about once a week. Their friendship has blossomed bringing great joy to both of them.
Steve Hartman interviewed Mr. Dan. They spoke of the time of Mr. Dan’s intense grief.
“What were you living for?” asked Hartman.
“I was trying to figure that out, frankly” replied Mr. Dan.
“You had no purpose?”
“Were you just waiting to die?”
“And then one day you go to the grocery store.”
At that moment in the interview, Mr. Dan’s face lit up with a big grin. His body shook as he chuckled with glee, because now the topic of conversation became his new little four-year-old friend, Norah.
“She opened me to a love that I didn’t know existed.“
“Dan, let me ask you,” Hartman inquired. “When you’re wife died, you felt like you didn’t have a purpose anymore. Do you feel like you have a purpose now?”
Mr. Dan replied instantly, “Of course! Nora. Watching her grow up. I know I’ve made room in my heart for a lot more.”
The way that Norah reached out to this man who needed love so desperately pictures the love that God has for you and for me. God is love (1 John 4:8), and He loves us, even if we don’t deserve it. We really don’t, because we have sinned and rebelled against Him (Romans 3:23). But He loves us anyway.
And how much does God love us? “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). He loves us so much that He gave His one and only Son to die on the cross for our sins so that we might have forgiveness and live with Him eternally (Romans 6:23; Ephesians 1:7).
God will save and give eternal life to those who place their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). He will continue to cleanse from sin those who continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7).
“Oh, what love, matchless love,
Oh, what love for me was shown!
His forever I will be,
For the love He gave to me.”
God’s love will open in our hearts a love that we never knew existed. His matchless love fills our hearts and lives with meaning and purpose and hope.
Won’t YOU respond to God’s matchless love by expressing your love to Him through your trusting obedience?
David A. Sargent