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Saturday, February 9, 2008

God, Vegetables and Mystery

Together mother and daughter cuddled beneath their blanket, watching the night-time sky. Chattering happily, the little girl told her mother of all the things her teacher had taught her that day, trying to point out constellations she had learned and talking about the beauty of the stars.

For a moment, the little girl paused, and her mother gently asked, "What is it little one? What are you thinking?"

She twisted around in her mother's arms until she could see her mother's face smiling down into her own.

"Mommy, the stars are pretty, and the Sunday school teacher says that makes us think of God, but if God made the stars so pretty, why did he make my vegetables so bad? Richie says that if God was good, he wouldn't have made things that are good for us to be bad. I don't know what to think."

"Oh, Honey, that's such a good question for you to ask," her mother said, hugging her tightly. "Do you remember when you learned to ice skate, and it was very hard at first, but when you learned how, you loved it, and now you're always so happy when Mommy and Daddy take you skating? And do you remember how tired you are when we finish, because it's so hard?"

The little girl nodded in her mother's arms.

"Do you remember what your daddy taught you and your brothers about character and how it comes from doing things that are good even though they're hard?"

Again, the little girl nodded. "But Mommy, why are good things so hard? Is it like when you were saying that we were fallen and so it's hard for us not to sin?"

"Yes, Honey, it's very much like that - because we're broken, it's hard for us to do good things and hard for us not to do bad things."

"But, Mommy, why did God make it like that?"

"God didn't make it like that. In the beginning we were good, but then we chose to do bad things, and so now we don't know the difference between what is good and what isn't. So from the beginning, we were like little children who didn't know that it would hurt if we played in the street where cars drive. That's part of why God sent his prophets and finally sent his Son to tell us what is good, because we were like little children."

"Mommy, are you like a little child?"

"Yes, Honey, I'm still like a little child. Sometimes I choose things that hurt me or others, but I always know that God knows the best way and so I try ask him to know the difference between what is good and bad."

"But, Mommy, why didn't God fix us like when you fix my knee after I fall?"

The mother kissed her little girl's forehead. “God is fixing us, that's why he sent all those people to us - to fix us and make us better again. But just like when I put a band-aid on your knee and it takes time to heal, it takes time for us to heal - especially if we don't know that's what he's doing."

"Why didn't he make us like the angels? They never get hurt."

"Remember what Daddy told you about the angels who fell away from God? Who chose things that were bad instead of things that were good?"

"Did they hurt themselves too?"

"Yes, but they weren't like us. They weren't able to choose good things once they had chosen bad things. God made them to be in his presence as soon as they were created, and even after seeing the best thing, which is God, they chose things that were bad. But God didn't want us to be like the angels - he made us different so that we have a long time to decide if we want to be with him."

"Why did he do that, Mommy? Why didn't he give the angels a second chance?"

"Do you know how sometimes Mommy and Daddy tell you not to do something because it's not good, and you don't understand why you shouldn't do it at first, but then later it makes sense?"

"Yes, Mommy, it's like when you told me not to run across the street without you, and I thought you were being mean, but then we saw the poor little squirrel, and I knew that was why you didn't want me to go by myself - 'cuz you didn't want me to get hurt."

"That's exactly right, Honey, and just the way you know that sometimes grown-ups know things you don't know so we make rules that you don't like or understand, sometimes God makes rules that we don't like or understand. And sometimes he does things that we don't understand, but it's important that we trust him, because we know we're like little children and God knows things that we don't know. So maybe this is one of those mysteries that your Sunday school teacher told you about last week - something that we don't understand fully and can't explain, but we can ask God to show us more to help us understand and we can ask him to help us trust him the way you trust Mommy and Daddy."

"OK, Mommy, I'll do that. But, Mommy," the girl looked solemnly into her mother's eyes, "I still don't like vegetables.”

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