Nannygranne sat with her barely 13-year-old friend, Bella. They’d been sharing bowls of cereal while watching the birds, squirrels, and a young rabbit scurrying around outside the kitchen window.
Bella suddenly spoke. “My mom and dad are my bosses. But I am supposed to mind you. How do I know?” Nannygranne thought she knew what she meant: “How do I know which one to obey?”
Her dad called Bella his “Little Lawyer.” She had an analytical mind. She wasn’t disrespectful, but she wanted information. Nannygranne loved that in a child. Bella would be the kind of woman who would consider any information coming her way, analyze it, test it against itself for truth, and would ferret out the facts.
Nannygranne wondered about the source of her question. She said to Bella, “I never want to ask you to do anything your parents wouldn’t allow. Have I done that before?”
Bella studied her cereal. Then before she took a bite, she said, “Well, you’ve told me that you don’t like to hear cussing on TV or anywhere, that everybody should worship God, and you don’t want to be around people that drink too much.”
“Oh, I see. You’re seeing a difference in what I’ve told you about what I think, and what you think your parents or others think. Is that what’s confusing to you?”
“Yeah. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do,” Bella said quietly, looking down at her cereal. Nannygranne could see her childlike desire to please those she loved and admired. Inconsistency or disparity in expectations left her feeling off-balance.
How do you help a child learn the discretion needed already in her young life? At 13, she would soon experience many more severe conflicting values among her social circle.
“Bella, we all have to make our own decisions about who we want to be and what we put into our hearts and minds. And sometimes, the hardest part of making a decision is worrying someone will be angry with us if we don’t choose their ideas.2 You see, nobody will be living your life but you. And in the end, the only Person you will have to answer to is the One who made you.”1
Nannygranne smiled and added, “But that isn’t to say you don’t listen carefully to your parents first, then your teachers and others, especially those who are showing you how to live well and make the world a better place. God planned that for kids while they’re learning how to make decisions.”
“But what do I do if they say different things? I don’t know which things to put into my heart and mind. How do you know?”
“Well, knowing isn’t always instant. Some people aren’t that interested in choosing things for their hearts and minds. Some folks hear something they like, without thinking it through, and decide that’s what they want.”
Nannygranne tilted her head, peering down at Bella’s upturned face. “I don’t think you’re one of those people. I think you’re smart enough and wise enough to find the facts first. What do you think?”
The girl’s eyes searched Nannygranne’s for a hint as to the answer. “How do I find out?”
“Well, it depends on what you need to know. For example: If you needed to decide whether drinking too much was a good thing for your mind and heart, where could you find out?”
“I’d ask somebody?” She was guessing.
“And who could you ask about what drinking too much does to your body? And who would know what drunk people sometimes do?”
“Maybe a doctor or a nurse knows about our bodies. And it’s against the law to drink and drive,” she listed. “Or I could ask Google.”
“And God has a few things to say about getting drunk, too,” Nannygranne added. “I think you’ve made a great start! Find out what doctors and policemen and especially God, say about drinking too much.”5
Nannygranne went to the next issue she’d mentioned. “And if you wanted to know about worshipping God, who would know?”
“I don’t know because some people don’t go to church, and some people do.” Bella’s statement had a touch of frustration.
“You are right, Bella, and good people choose both ways. That makes it hard for a young girl to know which is best for her own life.” Bella nodded. “So, where would you find the best answer about worship?”
Bella considered her answer, taking the last bite of her cereal and taking a sip of her orange juice. Finally she responded, “From the Bible.”
“Yes. Since worship is about God, it makes sense to see what He has to say about it. Do you know how to do that?” Nannygranne asked.
“No. I don’t know where to look.”
“Let me show you something. You’ll like this because it’s a tool you can use to find what the Bible says about anything you ever want to know.” Nannygranne leaned across the table and pushed her study Bible closer to Bella. Turning to the back of the Bible, she found the concordance.
“A concordance is kind of like a dictionary,” she told Bella, “except when you look up a word, it will list every verse in the Bible that has that word. Then you can find everything God’s Word says about that subject.”3
“That looks hard,” Bella objected, wrinkling her nose. “That’s like school work!”
“It’s your brain, your life, and your question. If you want your answer, I can help you find it.” Nannygranne knew this was a task that even some adults found daunting. “Giving up makes us miss discovering the thrill of discovery, even when it comes to the Scriptures.”
“Okay. I want an answer.”
With that, they dove into the lists. Words led to other words and other questions.4
After they had worked awhile, Bella pushed her chair back and said, “I’m tired, Nannygranne. Besides, I know what I want to think in my heart and my mind about worshipping God. Can we play a game now?” Rising from her chair, she stepped over to Nannygranne’s desk.
Leaning back and rubbing her eyes, Nannygranne called after her. “That’s a good idea. We’re going to be together quite a bit until school starts again. How does the Bible with breakfast again sound next time? Since God said in Proverbs 14:12, ‘There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death,’ I’m glad you’re learning to figure out the right way for you.”
“Me, too,” Bella said as she was returning from the desk with a Monopoly game.
Nannygranne said, “I’m going to need another cup of coffee.”
1 Ephesians 6:5-6
2 Hard Decisions: Matthew 10; 19:29
3 Bible Resource Apps: BibleGateway.com; MySword.info
4 On Worship: the grateful worshipped Jesus: Matt 2:11; 8:2; 9:18; 14:33; 15:25; 20:20; 28:9; 17; Lk 24:52
Early Christians worshipped in groups on Sundays: Acts 11:26; 13:1; 14:23, 27; 15:22, 41; 18:22; 16:1,5; 20:17;
I Cor 1:2; 11:18; 14:23; 16:19; Col 4:15; James 2:2
Holding on together as a congregation gives us strength: Hebrews 10:21-39
The church is people, not buildings, and important to God: Eph 5:25-32; I Tim 3:15;
5 Alcohol Abuse: https://youtu.be/V2Aj-iJ6p38; Luke 21:34Rom 13:3; Gal 5:21