Junk Doll

February 22nd, 2015

by Laura Jane Cerling

In the early 1950’s a huge box of second hand clothing and toys arrived at the Open Door Children’s Home in Hazard, Ky. Thelma Brown opened it and was sorting the contents when she pulled out the ugliest doll she had ever seen. The body was fixable, but the face was cracked and misshapen.

Who would bother to even pay postage to send such a thing, she thought with disgust. It was always disappointing to her when donors appeared thoughtless in the things they sent — as if any old rag or object was good enough for an orphan.

With a sigh, she tossed the doll onto a pile of trash.

Shortly afterwards, Thelma’s 4-year-old son Maurice came along, looked carefully at the discarded doll, picked it out of the trash, and hugged it. “Mama, I want this doll,” he told her.

She started to protest, but he said, “It’s so ugly, nobody’s ever going to want to love it. And this doll needs to be loved. I’ll love her.”

Then he named the doll Joash.

In Sunday School the week before, Maurice had heard the Bible story about the wicked woman who killed all her grandchildren so that she could become queen when her son, the king, died. A kind lady rescued baby Joash, one of the royal grandsons, before he could be killed. Then she raised him in her own family until the people found out that he was alive and made him king.

Maurice was only 4, but he had an adopted brother. He knew that sometimes people adopted someone else into their family, rescuing a child from a bad situation.

So Maurice adopted Joash and gave her the love he figured no one else would give her. Several years later, when his family moved to another state, the doll had to come along — even though its owner was half grown by then and his attention was centered elsewhere. As a teen and later as an adult, Maurice still had a tender heart toward those who were being put down by other people.

You never know what might happen – or what you might learn yourself — when you tell a child a Bible story.

Today’s scripture: “…unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven….” (Matt 18:3)

Today’s prayer: “Lord, help me to be as responsive to your words as Maurice was to the Bible story he heard.” Amen.

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