I’m at church, coloring at a table with my little classroom of two, three, and four year old students. We’re continuing our lesson about Jonah. We have pictures of whales and little Jonah figures that we are coloring so we can cut them out. I retell the story of Jonah. I’m continuing the lesson my daughter-in-law Chelsy began earlier that morning. The children love this tale. “God always knows where we are,” I say. “Yes,” three-year-old Isaac says smugly. “God knows everything.” Knowing things is important to my little scholar-grandson. Earlier that day, his mother had told me something that he had said about me. “Isaac says Grandma is like God because she is everywhere.” How cute, I had thought. Back to the present, another student has been working diligently, trying very hard to color inside the lines, and he’s afraid he won’t finish before church is over. “Will you finish my whale?” he asks. “Sure,” I say. I take his picture and the crayon and quickly finish his lovely purple whale. “Wow,” he states. “That was really fast. God could do it that fast. Are you like God?”
Twice today I’ve been compared to God. I’m floored. This has never happened to me before, and I’ve never been asked such a question, especially by a four-year-old. How does one answer a question like that? Of course I’m not like God. I’m just a flawed human being. I’m a mere woman. What a ridiculous idea.
But wait. To a four-year-old, this is a legitimate question. All questions are. I look around the room. Five pairs of eyes are glued on me, waiting for me to answer, even my grandson Michael who at two years old has been getting a little antsy, pulling on his shirt, and I know at any time he’s going to ask me to pull it off so he can pretend to be the Incredible Hulk, something we try to avoid at church! It’s time to think fast and explain this in a way that these little ones will understand. The answer to this question is important to them. “No,” I say. “I’m not like God. God is much, much greater than I am. God can do anything. He’s a million, billion, zillion times greater! I’m not like God, but I love Him, and I can tell you what I know about Him.”
This seems to satisfy my inquisitive crew, and we continue coloring and gluing and cutting until our little paper Jonahs have been colored and cut out and placed inside the whales’ bellies. I breathe a sigh of relief. I look around at my little crew, and they are happy sitting here beside me. They are happy that I spend time with them and listen to their questions.
That question has been on my mind all day. Did I answer it correctly? What would my own grandparents have said?
My mother’s parents, my grandparents, were two of the most godly people I have ever known. Of course they weren’t perfect, but they loved the Lord completely. In my grandmother’s words, faith in Christ was something they “lived and breathed.” My grandfather had been an alcoholic for much of his life, but he changed once he found Christ, and the grandfather that I knew, my Pop, was perfect in my eyes. I never knew the flawed man. I only knew the redeemed one, the one who would spend several hours a day studying his Bible, the one who would come out of his study with his face glowing like Moses’s must have after he had been in the presence of God, the one who would tell stories for hours with his grandchildren at his feet. My grandmother had suffered through some difficult times as his wife, but she had remained faithful to him. She was a single parent for several years, but she relied on God to get her through those years, and He did. She credited God for giving her husband back to her. According to my mother, Grandma never said one cross word about my grandfather. She was a truly virtuous woman. If I had asked either of them if they were like God, they would have said no. But to me, one of their many grandchildren, they were godly.
No, I’m not like God, but I love Him. Some day, my husband and I will be nothing but memories, and I pray that our grandchildren remember us as two people who lived life in a way that honored God.