Author: Mary Hall-Rayford
Destiny sat through the lesson in a huge room with many other children, puzzled. When the lesson was over, the children were escorted to an even larger room to locate their parents. After much hugging and backslapping, they were finally on their way home.
After the Justins arrived home, everyone changed their clothes and began preparing dinner. Destiny was so quiet during dinner her father began to be concerned about his usually rambunctious little girl. Under normal conditions, no one else would be able to get any conversation in because of her constant ramblings—child gossip and questions. That is what he usually heard. He sat and watched her as she picked at her food, barely eating. Either Ruth, his wife and their son, Kyle had not noticed or they were just too grateful for a relatively normal dinner conversation to say anything. Her father determined that as soon as they were finished with dinner he would have a little talk with her.
“Daddy, where is God?” Destiny blurted.
“God is everywhere,” her father answered, relieved to hear her talking.
“But how is that possible?”
“Well, God is a Spirit. Think of Him as being in the air, everywhere.”
“The teacher said that God sees everything we do and hears everything we say. How can He do that?”
“Since He is in the air, He can move around without having to take His body with Him.”
Joseph sat for a moment, thinking how he could best answer this question. Picking up a lit candle from the table, he came to a decision.
“Sweetheart, come with me.” He left the table holding the candle with one hand and his daughter’s hand with the other. They walked from the dining room into the family room where the room was in darkness. He sat the candle down on a table and blew out the flame.
“Do you smell anything?” he asked.
“Yes, I smell vanilla, my favorite,” she smiled.
“Can you see vanilla in the room?”
“No, it just smells like it.”
“The scent of the candle traveled into the room and stayed even though it’s not burning. Pretty much the way God can see and hear everything.”
He turned on a lamp and sat his daughter upon a footstool in front of his favorite chair.
“Now, do you know where God is?”
“I think so. Can I see God?
“Yes, you can. Every time you look in the mirror, you can see God.”
“Daddy, that’s silly,” she laughed. “I see me when I look in the mirror.”
Her father smiled at her innocence. “I suppose it is silly, but it’s true. When you look at yourself, do you see a little bit of your mother and me?”
“Yes, Kyle looks a lot like you, but I look more like Mommy.”
“That is because we’re your mommy and daddy. It takes a mommy and a daddy to make a baby.”
“I know how babies are made, Daddy. Mommy told me that last year when Aunt Sarah was having a baby.”
“I know, but I’m trying to show how God does things. You see the Bible says that God created us in His image—that means to look and act like Him. So, if we are created in His image, we can see Him every time we look at ourselves.”
“But Daddy, how can He look like me and you?”
“God created all of mankind and that means that He is in all people.”
“Oh,” she said, hugging her knees to herself. “So is that why people look different?”
“People look different because that’s the way God intended the world to be. Wouldn’t it be rather boring if we all looked alike? You would look rather funny with my beard, wouldn’t you?” he smiled.
“Yes, and you would look pretty funny wearing pigtails,” she giggled.
“Is that what was on your mind during dinner? You were awfully quiet.”
“Yes, but there was a lot more. You see Miss Wright told us about God being everywhere, seeing everything, and hearing everything we do. She also said that even though God loves us, He sometimes has to chas…,”Destiny faltered as she tried to remember the word.
“Yes, that’s what she said. What does chastise mean?”
“You know when you or your brother does something that you were told not to do, you get punished right?”
Destiny nodded vigorously, remembering very vividly a recent punishment.
“Well, God punishes those who are not obedient, too. He is our heavenly Father. So, He does the same thing most parents would do, punish His children when they do wrong things.”
“Does that mean He doesn’t love us when He has to punish us?”
“No, it means that because He loves us, He punishes us. If Mommy and I didn’t love you, we wouldn’t punish you. We would let you do whatever you wanted to do. But we do love you, so when you do the wrong thing, we must punish you in order for you to understand there are consequences for your actions.”
“What’s a conse…?”
“A consequence is getting the result of your actions. If you’re good, you get a reward. If you’re bad, you get a punishment. That’s why it’s important for you to obey us. We love giving rewards when you are good. God gives rewards to people when they are good and obey Him.”
“What’s a reward?”
“A reward is something nice. When you help Mommy, doesn’t she do nice things for you?”
“Yes. Sometimes we go and get ice cream and sometimes I get to buy a new toy. Does God give people ice cream and new toys?”
Her father smiled and shook his head. “Well, I guess for some people that might work. His rewards are sometimes called blessings. He blesses people with good health, good jobs, and wonderful children like you.”
Destiny moved from the footstool onto her father’s lap and lay in his arms quietly for a moment.
“So, if God gives good things, why do people do bad things and get…chastised? Wouldn’t they rather get good things all the time?”
“Think about this. Why do you do wrong things?”
“Sometimes I forget what you said not to do.”
“That’s right. Sometimes people forget what God has said. When that happens, people get in trouble.”
“So, how can I stop forgetting?”
“When Mommy and I say you can’t do something, if you don’t understand what we say or why we said it, you should ask us. We make rules to keep you safe from harm, not to keep you from having fun.”
“So, when people forget what God has said, how do they ask Him?”
“We talk to God by praying. Many times when we pray, He’ll remind us of things He’s said in the Bible. You know many of the Bible stories don’t you?”
“Yes, you and Mommy used to read them to me until I learned to read them myself.” She twisted in her father’s lap trying to get into a better position and yawned. Her father noticed she was getting tired and knew it would not be long before she would fall asleep in his arms, as she occasionally did.
“Mommy and I read you stories about Noah and the ark, Abraham and his son, Joseph and his brothers, and many others. All those stories were about obedience, trust, and love.”
“I remember,” her little head was bobbing, fighting sleep.
“Okay, sweetheart. You go upstairs and get ready for bed. Mommy and I will be up in a minute to hear your prayers.”
Joseph put his daughter down, walked to the bottom of the stairs with her, and watched as she dragged herself up the stairs. When she reached the top, he went into the kitchen where his wife and son were just finishing the dishes.
“What was that all about?” Ruth asked.
“She had some questions about what she learned in Children’s Church today. I must admit, Miss Wright really gives them food for thought.”
“Well,” Ruth said, laughing, “No matter what Miss Wright would have said, Destiny would have had questions. I thought we were long past the question stage, but I guess it lingers longer in some people than it does in others.”
“Yeah,” Kyle joined in. “I know all that stuff they teach in Children’s Church. That’s for babies. The real fun begins in Junior Church. We get to discuss what’s being taught. And our teacher, man is he good.”
Joseph put his arms around his wife’s waist and gently steered her towards the stairs. Looking back, he told Kyle to turn off the lights and not to stay up too late.
“You know, Ruth. Those kids are getting smarter every day. Soon they won’t need us at all.”
“That’s not going to happen for a very long time. They’re going to need us just like we need our Father.”
“You’re right. But we need to listen to Destiny’s prayers. I can’t wait to hear what she has to say tonight.”
Reaching the top of the stairs, they turned to the right and knocked on Destiny’s door.
“Ready to say your prayers?” her father asked.
“Yes, I’m ready.”
“Okay, let’s hear them,” her mother said.
Joseph and Ruth kneeled down beside Destiny and waited for her to begin. Destiny folded her hands together. First, she looked up at the ceiling and then she looked around the room.
“Dear God—I know you are in this room right now because Daddy says you’re everywhere. I think I understand now about chastising and conse…you know what I mean. Anyway, I need your help. Could you please remind me what Daddy and Mommy say so I won’t get punished. I’d appreciate it. I like getting rewards and Daddy says you like giving them—your blessings. Oh, and by the way, could you remind Kyle? He gets chastised, too. And God, thank you for loving me enough to have rules. Now, bless Mommy and Daddy, and Kyle, too. Bless Gran, Gramps, and all my friends. I hope they have been good so you can give them nice things. I know you love me because you gave me a really nice mommy and daddy. And God, because I love you, too, could you give yourself a blessing from me? Amen.”