23. Pepe and the Hearts of Stone

“Mom, dad…I’m going for a walk along the beach. I promise I won’t go too far.” Pepe was excited as the warm salt air and breeze invigorated his body, and wanted to soak it all in.

Pepe and his family went to Sandy Beach for a long weekend, a favorite vacation destination. As soon as they settled at the beach with chairs and a big umbrella, Pepe was ready for adventure. The sun was shining, the seagulls singing, the ocean waves dancing…the day promised to be a good one!

“Alright! Stay in view,” Pepe’s dad smiled back while adding lots of sunblock cream to his arms and face.

As Pepe walked along the ocean’s shore, his feet played with the sea foam. Suddenly he heard a commotion and turned to see a group of children destroying a sand-castle other kids had built…one group of kids were crying, and one group of bullies were mocking. Pepe’s heart saddened.   

He continued his walk and noticed some children, that he recognized from school, talking while playing in the water. Their voices were very loud and terrifying…they were gossiping lies about friends he knew well!

“What’s going on?” Pepe thought. The warm breeze played with his hair distracting his thoughts a little. He decided to continue his exploration. “The day is too beautiful to pay attention to such ugliness,” he said to himself.

As he walked further along, he saw a group of kids playing with a ball and decided to smile at them and say hello. He thought that maybe they’d invite him to join in, but to Pepe’s surprise, they looked at him with cold eyes and then turned and ignored him. 

Things didn’t get better when Pepe heard two kids standing nearby him scheming evil plans in secret, and not long after that he overheard a group of teens using very bad words in their conversation. It was obvious to Pepe that the teens were just envying another group’s surf boards.

Pepe’s heart sank. He felt he couldn’t continue walking along the shore. This was just too much wickedness to witness in such a short time!

“Hi, Pepe!” Tom’s cheerful voice sounded in Pepe’s ears like water in the desert, like soothing music to his soul.

“Is this place really called Sandy Beach, or is it called Stone Beach instead?” Pepe yelled out loud in frustration.

“Oh là là,” Béatrice sadly exclaimed as she noticed that Pepe was in distress.

“Oh-là what?” Pepe was confused.

“Oh là là…or…oh no!” Béatrice explained with sympathy.

Tom’s and Béatrice’s friendship and love calmed Pepe down. 

“I’m so sorry…” Pepe scratch his head. “It’s that I’ve just seen so many hearts made out of stone.”

Poof! The Three Musketeers appeared wearing beach caps.

“I’m ready to go swimming!” Jesus exclaimed. “Who would like to join me?” His excitement was so strong that it was contagious.

Even though Tom and Béatrice were eager to join Him in the water, Béatrice moved closer to Jesus and whispered in His ear, “Sorry to interrupt You, but we have a situation here…Pepe is in a gloomy mood…”

“I know,” Jesus tenderly said, “that’s why we’re here now.” He then turned towards Pepe and looked him in the eye with so much love, “’…only God’s Spirit can change [people] into a child of God.’” [John 3:6]

Then, the Father spoke to the three kids, “You have to ‘let the Spirit change your way of thinking and make you into a new person’ [Ephesians 4:23-24]. So, listening and submitting to the Spirit is very important, children!” The Father paused for a moment—for His words to be planted deep in their minds and hearts. “Even though Jesus’ redeeming work on the cross is for all, not everybody accepts such a life-giving gift …” The Father looked very sad.

“Our beloved,” the Holy Spirit intervene with a serious expression, “just remember that ‘good people bring good things out of their hearts, but evil people bring evil things out of their hearts.’” [Matthew 12:35]

After a moment of silence, Tom said thoughtfully, “I guess we’ll have to pray hard for people with hearts of stone…for their hearts to be transformed…” 

“Uh-huh,” the Three Musketeers said in agreement.

“But, how long do we have to live with people who have hearts of stone? They make the world really ugly!” Pepe complained.

“Oh, we love them all too!” A tear of sadness came out of Jesus’ eye. 

“Oh Jesus, please don’t cry…” Béatrice tried to comfort Him.

“One day though,” Jesus addressed the children, “and as I spoke long time ago through the prophet Jeremiah, the whole city of Jerusalem will be my throne. All nations will [go there] to worship me, and they will no longer follow their stubborn, evil hearts.’” [Jeremiah 3:17]

“Hooray!” cheered Pepe, Béatrice and Tom, as they jumped for joy.

“Now, now…” Jesus’ face was radiant with joy again, “who would like to go for a swim in the ocean?” 

“Me!” The three children exclaimed with excitement and followed Jesus to the water.

The Father and the Holy Spirit smiled and found a place to sit down in the sand. While enjoying the moment, the Holy Spirit whispered into the breeze for anyone who might understand, “’Many people will have their hearts and lives made pure and clean, but those who are evil will keep on being evil and never understand. Only the wise will understand.’” [Daniel 12:10]

Related Bible reading:
Ezekiel 36: 26-27
Titus 2: 14

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