There was once a little girl named Anne and all her life she felt different from all the other people around her. While she was only eight years old, she would walk down the busy streets of the city she lived near and peek in through the windows, her little hands leaving prints as she pressed her nose to the glass. The people inside never noticed her. They were always too busy talking amongst themselves, drinking, eating or spending money on designer clothes, jewelry and cars to notice the small girl with dirty blonde hair and green eyes.
Anne's family never noticed her very much either unless she’d done something she wasn’t supposed to. When she was around they were always to busy to ask her what went on inside her mind. Other things seemed more important. Her older brother played video games while his bike rusted away in their garage. Her older sister talked on her cell phone and went out on dates with boys. Her mother was single and too busy with her career to pay much attention to Anne or her other children, so mostly they fended for themselves. Anne never knew her father and when she asked about him, she was told he went away.
Anne's family attended church irregularly and it was there that she'd heard about her father and his son Jesus. Anne always wondered why she'd never met her brother…the one named Jesus. It wasn’t until one Easter Sunday that she found out he'd been nailed to a wooden cross and had died a horrible death. She cried quietly in the back seat of their mini van the whole ride home. Nobody noticed her tears.
One day, Anne decided she would look for her father. She packed her pink backpack with the belongings most important to her and left home, planning to stay away quite a while. Nobody heard the sound of the door click closed or her footsteps down the front walkway
She was halfway into the big city when from an alley she heard someone say "Anne..." She stopped and looked around, seeing no one there. Taking two more steps forward she heard it again. "Anne..." And again she stopped and looked around. This time she saw a light shining brightly at the very end of the alley. Slowly she walked towards it and as she got closer the light got much brighter, so much so that she had to shield her eyes with her hand above her brow. "Hello?" She asked in a small, quivering voice.
"Do not be afraid, Anne."
"How do you know my name?" She asked, squinting.
"Because I'm your father." said the voice. It was a man's voice. He sounded very kind to Anne and she was no longer afraid.
"You're my father?" Her green eyes widened.
"Yes, Anne. And I love you very much." came the voice again.
"Where have you been?" She asked.
"I've always been with you. From the time you were born."
"But why haven't I met you until now?" She asked.
"Because you never came looking for me until now." He replied.
"Oh..." Her dark brow furrowed slightly. "But I can't see you, Father, the light is too bright."
"I know, child. Nobody can see me. But I am with you always in your heart. All it takes is an open heart to find me."
"In my heart?" Anne was confused. She looked down at her little chest and back up again. "But how?"
"Because I created you. Just like I created everyone else. Just like I created every living thing on the planet."
"You created everything?" Her eyes widened round as saucers.
“You mean like the animals and the birds and plants and trees?” she asked.
"Oh...wow…you’ve been busy!" She exclaimed, clapping her hands together.
Her father chuckled. "Anne, I have an important message for you to deliver and I've chosen you to do it for me, if you will accept."
"You do? You chose me?" Anne was surprised to hear that. Most people never noticed her let alone chose her to perform important tasks.
"Yes. Do you think you could help me? It would mean saving many people's lives."
Anne smiled and nodded. "Yes, I can help you Father. What do you want me to do?"
"I want you to find my lost children. They are your brothers and sisters."
"You mean I have more? But why are they lost?" She was excited at that prospect, thinking maybe there’d be some her own age to play with..
"Because like you, before today, they never looked for me."
Anne nodded, understanding perfectly. "How will I find them? And when I do, what do I say to them?"
"You will tell them that my son, Jesus, will be coming soon and that they are to prepare their hearts for his return."
"What do you mean?" She asked. “Will there be a party?”
"I mean that when you open your heart, is when you are able to find me. Just like you did today. So they must do the same." He didn’t answer about the party, but Anne was already thinking of other things.
"But..." She was again confused. How could he come back if he had died? "Didn't he die on the cross?"
"Yes, he did. But you must have faith and trust what I say to you, for he will come back and it will be a miracle. Do you believe in miracles Anne?"
She thought about that a moment and then decided she did. Finding her Father on the first day she went looking had to be a miracle, didn't it? "Yes, I do." Anne smiled brilliantly, excited. Someone had entrusted her with a very important message and she was going to help find all the lost people and bring them back to their father. The prospect elated her.
"I love you Anne. My angels will be watching over you and I will see you soon." The light slowly faded away, until Anne found herself standing in the dark alley again, all alone.
“Wow!” She exclaimed, lowering her visored hand from above her eyes. “Angels!” Then she turned on her heel and ran back down the alley into the daylight of the sidewalk. People brushed past her, walking this way and that. She began to tug on sleeves and coat tails, walking along with them while telling them, "Jesus is coming! Jesus is coming! Open your heart!"
The people shrugged her off, or looked at her like she had three heads on her shoulders. Many were too busy talking on their cell phones, reading their papers, typing on their laptops, lugging their shopping bags and Anne found herself ignored. She couldn't understand why these people wouldn't be excited. Why they wouldn't listen to her. For hours she kept on tugging and pulling, walking and following and delivering the message her Father had asked her to until a man took notice of her and waved her over to him. She was only too happy to go, because he was the first who’d paid any attention to her yet.. He was dressed in rags, had a beard and was holding a bottle wrapped in a paper bag. To Anne, he definitely looked lost even though he wasn’t a child, he was a full grown man. "What's that you say little girl? Jesus is coming?" He asked.
"Yes! He is! And we will all get to meet our Father!" Anne replied excitedly. "He was right down that alley, right there!" She turned and pointed to where the light was and where she’s spoken to her father..
Again the man cackled with laughter than began to cough. He'd had a rough life and didn't believe in God. When he’d recovered he nodded and smirked, saying "Alright little girl. Here's a toast to you and your almighty Father!" Then he lifted the bottle back to his lips and drank heavily from it. It was at that moment that a policeman happened to walk by. He stopped and went up to Anne.
"Little girl, can I help you? Are you lost?"
"No sir." Anne said, glancing at the man with the bottle. "But I think he is.” She pointed to the bum. “I was just telling this man here that Jesus is coming and we should prepare our hearts."
The policeman laughed, thinking her quite cute and guided her away from the homeless bum on the street corner. "Is that so?"
"Yes, sir. Our Father told me. He was right down that alley." She pointed behind them a block away.
The policeman laughed again and gently guided her away from the bum with a hand to her back. "My, my...you're a regular miniature Aimee Simple McPherson aren't you?"
“My name is Anne, not Aimee…”
He stopped laughing and became more serious. "Now you listen to me. That alley is narrow, dark and dangerous and you should never go down there.” He shook a finger at her. “It's better that you stay on the sidewalk, where it's wide and lit with street lamps for your own safety." The policeman nodded and pursed his lower lip at her, sweeping his hand palm up to show her. "See how everyone else walks on the sidewalk? Nobody in their right mind goes down the alley and you shouldn't either young lady. Now you run along, I'm sure that your mother would have a fit if she knew you were trying to convert bums to Christianity on the city streets."
"Yes, sir. But really, I'm just fine. You don’t have to worry.. He said his angels would watch out for me." This time both the policeman and the bum laughed. Anne was confused as to why they were laughing as she turned and walked away. She couldn't help it, but she began to feel tears of frustration building up in her eyes. It seemed nobody wanted to hear what she had to say and if they bothered to listen, they didn't believe. She wouldn't give up though. Surely she'd find someone who believed her.
As she walked she continued to tell people the news, but nobody would listen to her still. And finally the sun began to go down and the people on the sidewalks thinned out as the stores began to close. A short, stout woman bustling by in a hurry took a look at the small girl all alone with her backpack and stopped to look at her. "Are you lost little girl?" she asked, touching Anne's shoulder with her free hand. She held a Bible in the other.
Anne looked up and saw the Bible, then into the woman’s face and smiled. "No ma'am. Are you?" Anne replied, looking hopeful.
"Oh, Lord no, I'm on my way to services at that church, right across the street." She pointed briefly then looked back to Anne and smiled.
Anne looked and saw the large cathedral with stained glass windows and lights shining brightly inside. "Are you looking for our Father?" Anne asked. "Because if you are, he's not there. He's was just down a this alley...I saw him and he spoke to me."
The woman looked at her strangely. "I don't think so..." She said, "I'm quite positive if He can be found anywhere it'd be in church and not down some dark, narrow, filthy alley."
"Well, that's not where I found him...He was in the alley."
The woman smirked. "Trust me, dear. I’ve been attending Church my entire life. I even considered becoming a nun at one time. I do everything a good Christian should. I go to church religiously and I even give a portion of my income to ensure that when the time comes, I will meet him." She lifted her chin, piously and looked down her thin nose at Anne. "I promise you that won't be happening anytime soon though. Our pastor says so."
"Well, he was..." Anne insisted. "And he gave me a message."
The woman's brows went up. "Oh?"
"Yes! He said that Jesus is coming soon and we should prepare our hearts."
The woman laughed, quite amused. "And he was down an alley when he told you this?"
"Yes ma'am." Anne nodded assuredly.
The woman snorted. "More than likely you were talking to some crazy person with nothing better to do than harass little girls and tell them silly stories. Besides, if our Father had a message for us, surely he would give it to someone like me and not you. Why, you're just a child! Now go on home now, it's getting late." And with that, she hurried away with the rest of the people going to services to join the people who filled the sidewalks outside the church and filtered inside. Anne stood and watched as the doors closed behind them.
Feeling quite dejected after a very long, hard day, Anne turned slowly walked back down the street in the direction from which she'd come. When she reached the alley, she stopped and squinted her eyes in the darkness to see if she could see her Father again. "Hello?" She called. Silence. She stood there for several minutes. Nothing. So, she walked home, her head hung in disappointment and her heart heavy with sadness because she had not found a single lost brother and sister all day long. When she got home, nobody had even noticed she'd been gone. Her brother and sister were nowhere to be found and her mother had left a note on the refrigerator saying she'd be away on a business trip for the next two days. Anne removed her backpack and walked up the stairs, dragging it behind her all the way to her room where she closed her door behind her softly and went to bed.
The following morning Anne was gone. She'd been reunited at last with her heavenly Father. Along with her were also those brothers and sisters who'd looked for Him as well and who'd opened their hearts and walked down narrow dark alleyways to find Him. While Anne's family had never paid much attention to her or cared whether she was there or not until it was too late, her Heavenly Father had always watched over her and He had missed Anne very much and now they would be together for all of eternity.
Anne spent just one day spreading the message her Father gave her to anyone and everyone she encountered. And even though those people she tried to warn didn’t listen - she would be remembered for what she did - and more hearts would be opened and lost would be found. So you see, it’s never too late to spread the good news. Even if you don’t see the immediate results of your work while in service to the Lord, it’s all part of a divine plan.