WHY TIME with NannyGranne

“Is Sunday School Just Superstition?”

As he asked the question, I could tell he felt both angry and confused.  My heart went out to him.  He was afraid there wouldn’t be an answer or that he was wrong to ask.

“You know, Harry, I’ve heard that question before.”

His expression melted into hopeful curiosity. “You have?”

He came and sat next to me.  I was volunteering that week for Mother’s Day Out and was on playground duty.  Sitting in the church’s shady play area felt good.  We’d lunched outside, read under the trees, and collected rocks, sticks, and leaves to construct a Jesus house.  Now the girls sat in groups on the grass and talked while the boys played chase.

“Oh, yes,” I began.  “There are people–some of them very brilliant and important–who teach that believing in God is like believing in ghosts or fairies.  But some of them aren’t being honest and some haven’t thought about it long enough.  Others are just saying what they heard someone else say and really don’t know if that’s true.”

Harry nodded. “Oliver’s daddy is a science teacher and Oliver said his daddy said that Sunday School is just superstition.”  He crossed his arms and sighed.

“So, do you think Oliver thinks you’re silly for going to church?”

Harry looked at his feet, now bouncing as if running in the air.  “I don’t know.  But that’s what he said when I invited him to come to church and go home with me after.”

“Oh, I see,” I said.  “I’d feel really disappointed if my friend said that to me.”

“Yeah,” he responded.

“Well, what Oliver’s daddy may not know is that over half the scientists in the world believe in God.1  Would you like for me to show you a list?” I offered as I picked up my phone.

“Yeah, show me, Nannygranne!”  Leaning over my phone, he watched the screen.

I searched Wikipedia for “List of Christians in Science and Technology.”2  As I scrolled down page after page, Harry’s jaw dropped.  Then, so like a boy, he stood up, shook convulsively, feigned unconsciousness, and fell dramatically to the ground.

“Hey!  You haven’t seen them all yet,” I laughed, poking the phone into his face, then tickling him.

He rolled out of my reach, laughing.

“I think I know why Oliver’s dad didn’t know about this.   There were a couple of science clubs that took a vote to see who believed in God.  There were 239 in one who said ‘no’ and 20 who said ‘yes.’  But half the club members didn’t even vote.3  Then they told everyone that most scientists don’t believe in God.  But the number who said ‘no’ weren’t ‘most scientists’ in the world.”

“Yeah.  That’s not everyone!”  He sat in the cool grass at my feet, thinking. Then he tilted his head. “Why do some scientists not believe in God?”

“I can’t read their minds or see into their hearts.  Only God can do that.  But I think some of them haven’t tried to figure it out because they don’t want God to be their boss.  There will always be folks like that.  But God still wants them to become His friends, too.  And you and I can believe in God because of what we know is true.  We don’t have to feel ashamed when someone disagrees with us.”

He nodded.

I added, “Maybe when you grow up, you can help other people see that God made everything amazing and fascinating and interesting to see.”

“Nah.  I think I’ll be a fireman.  But I’ll tell Oliver to come look at your list. Is that okay?”

“I don’t mind.  Be kind though and just tell him I showed you something cool.  All right?”

As he ran off, I hoped he’d heard my caution.

Again, I was amazed by the willingness of intelligent people to say something is true without confirmation, when a quick Wikipedia search could reveal the truth.  I prayed for Oliver’s family that this might be a window of light that could reveal a crack in their unbelief. And they could peer through that crack and see God looking back at them.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

  1. Edward J. Larson and Larry Witham, “Scientists Are Still Keeping the Faith,” NATURE 386 (Apr 3, 1997):435-36
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Christians_in_science_and_technology

3  “93% of Scientists are atheist or agnostic.”  Scientific Journal NATURE, Jul 23, 1998. (Note: The latest survey involved 517 members of the National Academy of Sciences, but only half replied.)

“Jesus Didn’t Say Anything About Abortion.”

She almost spoke the words in a whisper as she sat in her lawn chair, safely distanced for our community fireworks event. Head down, she fiddled with her napkin, obviously full of frustration.

I asked, “What do you think Jesus should have said about abortion?”

“I don’t know, but I wish He’d have said something.  My sister’s getting an abortion, and I’m so mad at her.  I tried to get her not to and to talk to Mom and Daddy so they could help her.   But she said Jesus left it up to her, and she’s too young to be a mother.”  Libby threw her head back in exasperation as if she’d been sparring with the idea and lost.

“I’m sad, too, because this is heartbreaking for you.  You must feel stuck with your sister’s secret—stuck between a rock and a hard place.” I wanted her to feel understood, even as I searched my mind for God’s way and Word to guide her through her unimaginable wilderness of opinions.

Libby grimly nodded her head, her chin trembling as a tear stole down her cheek.  She was only thirteen and carrying this load.

“Libby, may I pray with you for your sister?  And I want to ask God to help us with answers, for His Words to come to us and light up your path.”  With that, I bowed and softly pleaded with God for wisdom and guidance and loving ways to carry Libby and her sister through the difficult coming days.

“Thank you, Nannygranne.  But I still don’t know what to do.  Most people say it’s not really a person, yet … just a growth that they’d remove.  But others point out it has a heartbeat already and even has its own separate DNA.  To me, it’s a baby.  It’s my niece or nephew, and I don’t want that baby to die!”  Her tears flowed fresh as she held her face in her hands, her shoulders shaking in silent sobs.

“Come walk with me and let’s think of what Jesus might have said if He had said anything about abortion.”  I rose from my chair and reached out my hand.  “I remember several things Jesus said about children. Do you remember Jesus saying, ‘Let the little children come to me …’?”

“… for of such is the kingdom of heaven, “1  Libby finished.  “I’ve been thinking of that one.  But He wasn’t talking about abortion.”

“True, but that verse does speak about Jesus’ view of children.”  We continued to stroll; my thoughts began to form.  Finally, I said, “And David wrote that we are knit together in our mother’s womb and God knows what we’ll become. 2   In fact, Jeremiah, David, the Apostle Paul, John the Baptist, and Jesus all say God was already dealing with them before they were born.3  Based on those facts, how do you think God feels about unborn children?”

“He knows them and thinks they are important,” Libby responded, giving the impression she felt she was being tested and hoping she answered well.

“I think so, too.  But you know, Libby, what sticks in my mind is what you said about a baby: that, as soon as it becomes a cell, it has its own DNA, separate from either of his parents.  Then I think of the fact that every human is made in God’s image.  God made that decision from the start of humanity.” 4

Libby was quiet as we walked.

“Why did God tell us that, I wonder?”

Libby took a few more steps, then looked at me.  “Maybe He wanted us to feel important?”

“Important because …?”

“Because a piece of Him is in all of us.” Libby spoke as if she’d thought it for the first time. “Every life belongs to God!  My sister’s baby belongs to God, not her!”

“Could it be that is the reason murder is wrong?  Not just because it’s some rule, but because every human bears God’s resemblance and belongs to Him.  Most of us do not murder someone if they get in our way or give us a disease or even threaten our lives.  Rather we let the law deal with those things.”

I hoped Libby saw the point. “So since God made us in His image, and Jesus thinks we’re valuable, and we have a future He knows about even before we are born, then stopping that life would NOT be what Jesus would do.  He didn’t have to tell us not to have an abortion.  It is obvious that it’s something Jesus wouldn’t want.”

I continued, “God gave us His message not to just give us a ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ list.  He wants us to know Him and understand how much He loves us.  He shows us the way to live well now and also live with Him for eternity. He didn’t say ‘Don’t do drugs,’ or ‘Don’t cheat on tests,’ or ‘Don’t be a bully’ or ‘Just Say No.’  But He didn’t have to. He wants us to be like Him. And He wants what’s best for us.”

I finished, “So, what do you think Jesus would say to your sister?”

Libby nodded as if coming to a decision.  “Jesus would say He loves my sister and wants to help her and her baby.  He would say He loves that baby already and has a future in mind for him, or her.”

“And what do you think Jesus would say to you as her sister?”

Libby stopped and looked at me, then said, “I need to talk to her again and tell her I love her.  Then I’ll try to get her to talk to Daddy and Mama.  I’ll go with her.  I want her to know her family has her back.”

There was still one more thing that needed to be said. “Anything else, Libby?” I asked.

Libby shook her head, waiting for me to answer my own question.

“I think Jesus would also tell your sister to do the right thing and stop having sex until she’s married.  That’s Jesus’ gift to her:  a much more beautiful life.”6

“I will, Nannygranne.  Thank you soooo much! Oh, and could you text me those Bible verses so I can show them to her?”

“Of course, I will.  And I’ll be praying that God will open hearts. I’ll look forward to hearing how it turns out.  Hey, it’s getting dark!  Are you ready to head back?”

“Sure!  I’ll go get us some sparklers!  Is that okay?”

“Yes. Thanks!”

The girl took off in a jog, her load now lifted.

God had shown up for me—for us.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

1 Luke 18:16

2 Psalm 139:13-16

  1. Jeremiah 1:5; Job 10:8-12; Ecclesiastes 11:5; Acts 17:25; Galatians 1:15; Luke 1:15; and Matthew 1:20

4 Genesis 1:27

5 Luke 14:26-27; Matthew 7:21; John 10:10

6 Matthew 19:10; John 8:11; Hebrews 13:4

 

 

If God is real, why doesn’t He just tell me?

As the refreshment line moved, the ballplayers jostled and razzed each other.  One kid, dodging from a rib poke from a teammate, said, “Hey man!  God says you gotta be nice to me!”

His buddy retorted, “Hey, man!  There ain’t no God to save you from me!”

“Don’t you believe in God?”

“If God is real, why doesn’t he just tell me?” was his answer.

Nannygranne, overhearing this, offered cookies and Gatorade to the boys. Then, she smiled and said, “Well, weren’t you listening?  He did tell us.”

Both boys froze and studied her.  “Listening to what?” one asked.

She responded, “If you got room for an old lady at your table, I’ll tell you what I heard.”  Looking around as if checking for spies, she whispered, “And there might even be more cookies on my plate than I can eat.”

The boys grinned and offered high fives. “You got it.  We’ll save you a place.”

After the last ballplayer was served, Nannygranne piled a small plate with an assortment of cookies and grabbed a bottle of water.  She spotted her new friends waving from their picnic table and made her way over.

“Thanks for the cookies, ma’am,” one said.  “My name’s Nate.  This is Dewayne, and those two bone-brains are Bart and Leon, short for Bartholomew and Napoleon. But they don’t understand big words, so go easy on ’em.”

“Hey, guys.  Glad to meet you.  All the kids call me Nannygranne.  I don’t know any big words, so don’t worry.”  Laughing, she passed the plate to Leon. “And you can have the cookies for free.”

Everybody grabbed some cookies and left one for Nannygranne.  She grabbed it dramatically, saying, “Whew!  That worked out just right!”  Then, laughing, she took a bite.

Bart spoke up, “So, Nate says God told you he was real.  Is that true, Ms. Nannygranne?”

“Every word of it.  But you have to know how to listen.” She took another bite of her cookie.

“Oh, you mean like that ‘still small voice’ our preacher talks about?” Leon asked.

“Well, what I heard was bigger than that,” she began.  “I heard the universe say nobody’s figured out what caused the Big Bang.  But God said He made the universe.  I heard an unborn baby say nobody knows how two different people can make a baby with its own DNA.  But God said He knits us together in our mother’s womb.  I heard a Sociology professor say nobody knows why all cultures and peoples the world over have a common sense of right and wrong. God says He makes each of us in His image and His likeness.  He told me all that in the Bible and showed me the world through scientific eyes.”

The boys were quiet for a moment.  Then Nate said, “What I don’t understand is why God keeps us guessing.  Why doesn’t He just come talk to us, so we’ll know He’s there?”

“Good question. You’d think that would make it so much easier. Of course, some would say He did. Jesus was God, and He became one of us and said plenty.  Then He rose from the dead to show that He was who He said He was.”

“If God would just talk to us, we wouldn’t have to have the Bible or Jesus.  How come he doesn’t just come say, ‘Hey!  This is me here.'”

“All right.  That’s a fair question.  Maybe we could look at it this way: Who is your hero of history?”

“That’s easy! Martin Luther King!” Dewayne bobbed his head with conviction.

“Naw, man! She means like George Washington or somebody like that,” Leon argued.

“I vote Elvis Presley.  He changed the world of music,”  Bart added.

Nannygranne laughed. “Now you’re talking. Have any of you guys ever met any of those people?”

Nate frowned. “No, but that’s not the same.  We can see them on TV and hear them—all except George Washington, that is.  Millions of people have seen them.  There’s no doubt they are real.”

Nannygranne leaned forward. “We still have letters and papers written by people who saw and heard Jesus.  A bunch of them were murdered because they wouldn’t stop saying that they knew Him, saw Him die, and saw Him alive again.  Could that be the same?”

“I hadn’t thought of it that way,” Bart admitted.

But Nate was persistent about his point. “But still, why won’t God just talk to us?  He could do that.”

“Okay, Nate.  What if some pretty girl knocked on your door and said, ‘Come here, Nate.  I want you to be on my team, and you have to do whatever I want. Pack your stuff; you gotta go now.’  How would that strike you?”

Immediately the boys howled and said, “Go for it, man!  A pretty girl!”

But Nannygranne kept her eyes on Nate.  She obviously wanted an honest answer. “So what do you say, Nate.  How would that strike you?”

“Not good.  It should be my choice, not an order.  I don’t care who it is.” Nate’s response quieted his friends.

“Why?  She’s a pretty girl.  No telling what might come of it.”

“Yeah, but there’s no relationship there.  She’d probably be crazy, anyway.”

“Good answer, Nate.  Then you understand why God doesn’t do you that way.  He wants a relationship with you.  He respects you enough to give you a choice.  He could force you.  But then your response would be meaningless.  Instead, He gives us beautiful things, shows us how to live well, sends us letters (The Bible), and even spent some time with us on earth.  That’s why He doesn’t just get in your face.  He wants you to want Him because of what He’s done and who He is.  It’s up to you to listen.”

The boys, now quiet, waited for Nate’s response.  Finally, he said, “I see your point. I see what you mean.  But I gotta think some more about this.”

Nannygranne, starting to get up, smiled, and said, “I think that’s pretty awesome, Nate.  You’re a thinker.  Some people don’t want to think.  They just don’t want God in their lives.  But I figure that if the God of the Bible is real, it won’t make much difference what I think when He knocks on my door and says, ‘You’re coming with Me.’”

Leon stood. “Thanks, Ms. Nannygranne.  Thanks for the cookies—and for taking the time to talk to us.”

“Guys!  Are you kidding?  I’m flattered to be invited.  I love it when people ask me questions.  Anytime, okay?”

As she walked away, she heard one of them say to another, “I wonder how she knows all that stuff about God’s letters.”

She hoped they’d ask.

Why don’t people live as long as they used to in the Bible? 

As Nannygranne and Kiera painted fairy doors for the big elm tree out front, they chatted about different things of God.  Without looking up from her delicate work on a tiny flower, Kiera said, “How come people don’t live as long as they used to in the Bible?  Do you have a story about that?”

“Now that’s a great question.  You’re the first one to ask me about that,” Nannygranne said, matching Kiera’s intensity of work.  “Actually, God did tell us a story about how that all came about.  Would you like me to read it to you?”

“Sure,” she answered, “While I try to make the right color of pink.”  She was extremely creative for her age and it was fun watching her work.

“OK.  I’ll read it to you now.”  Nannygranne grabbed her phone, again accessing an easy-to-read version of Genesis chapter 5 through chapter 6:3 (MSG).  She read the portions pertinent to human longevity, hoping Kiera would see the progression of thought.

This is the family tree of the human race: When God created the human race, he made it godlike, with a nature akin to God. He created both male and female and blessed them, the whole human race.  When Adam was 130 years old, he had a son who was just like him, his very spirit and image, and named him Seth. … Adam lived a total of 930 years. And he died.  When Seth was 105 years old, he had Enosh…Seth lived a total of 912 years. And he died. When Enosh was ninety years old, he had Kenan…Enosh lived a total of 905 years. And he died.  When Kenan was seventy years old, he had Mahalalel…Kenan lived a total of 910 years. And he died. When Mahalalel was sixty-five years old, he had Jared…Mahalalel lived a total of 895 years. And he died. When Jared was 162 years old, he had Enoch… Jared lived a total of 962 years. And he died. When Enoch was sixty-five years old, he had Methuselah….Enoch walked steadily with God. And then, one day, he was simply gone: God took him.”

Kiera suddenly stopped what she was doing and gasped, “Gone?  Where did God take him?”

“Well, the Bible doesn’t say, but wherever God took him would have been really good, wouldn’t you say?” Nannygranne responded.  “I once heard about a little boy who came home from Sunday school.  His mother asked him what they’d talked about in Bible class, and he told her that they talked about a man named Enoch.  Enoch and God were taking a walk one day, and when it got late, they were closer to God’s house than Enochs, so Enoch just went home with God.”  Then Nannygranne laughed.

“Yeah, I like that story,” Kiera said as she returned to her painting.  “Go ahead and read the rest.”

Nannygranne continued,  When Methuselah was 187 years old, he had Lamech… Methuselah lived a total of 969 years. And he died.  When Lamech was 182 years old, he had a son. He named him Noah, saying, “This one will give us a break from the hard work of farming the ground that God cursed…Then God said, “I’m not going to breathe life into men and women endlessly.  Eventually, they’re going to die; from now on, they can expect a life span of 120 years.”

“Oh!  So when there got to be enough people in the world, God didn’t’ make people work so long and have so many kids?”

“I’m impressed, Kiera.  You understood exactly what God was explaining in this story.” She gave the girl a high five.

“Then why don’t we all live to be 120 years old, then,” Kiera wondered.

“Some do.  Every once in a while, you read of someone living for more than 100 years.  Let’s Google it and see if anyone’s ever lived for over 120 years, OK?”

Kiera immediately stopped what she was doing to see the results of the search.  Sure enough, a lady in France had lived over 121 years!

“I guess if we ate healthy and exercised, we’d live as long as her, too, right?” Kiera guessed.

“We at least know it’s possible.  But remember what Noah’s daddy said about being able to rest from having to work for so many years?”

“Oh yeah.  That lady from France does look tired,” Kiera said as she leaned closer to study the aged face on the screen.

Nannygranne laughed and added, “I’d rather live in God’s world than stay here forever.  I’m glad Jesus shows us the Way there, too.”

“Me, too, Nannygranne.”

Then she cheered as she clapped joyfully. “I like our doors!”

“…and the pond,”  her mentor added.  A day well spent.

 

 

QUESTIONS ANYONE?

Nannygranne (Ann Coleman) tells me she is running low on children’s questions. Can you help her out? Maybe you have children, or you know someone with children you can ask. She’ll consider most any question as long as it has to do with the Bible or faith. You can pass then on using the “Contact” link on this website or you can pass them to me (macroper@sbcglobal.net) and I’ll pass them on. I personally enjoy Ann’s stories. Let’s keep them going. Editor: David Roper