Passing the Faith Along – Conclusion

I have been very irregular in my posting of late. I am going post this conclusion and then take time off until the end of the year. I plan to reevaluate the time spent posting stories on this blog.


 

They all put their luggage inside the old two-story farmhouse which was painted a brilliant white and was nestled in a small grove of shade trees. It sagged just a little bit on one side. Grampa Johnny said it was mostly because it was over a hundred years old, but it had been that way for at least the last fifty years because it was that way when he first met Gram Susie and that was “a long time ago” he said with a smile aimed at Gram Susie. She blushed slightly and smiled back.

It wasn’t really a big farm. It had just a few fields for pasture for the horses and cows. There was a creek that ran through the property with a swimming hole and a couple of places that were good for pretending you were fishing while you were really just taking a nap. They had a large vegetable garden, a medium sized barn, a hen house inside a fenced in area for the chickens, a pig pen and all the usual farm machinery sitting on the side of the barn under a shelter. Stanley made it his business to run all over the farmyard to look at everything pulling his father behind him and asking a hundred questions about everything. Grampa Johnny tried to keep up with them but usually arrived in time to answer one question and then off Stanley went to his next destination. They kept this up for at least an hour.

After everyone got unpacked and cleaned up. They sat down in the big country kitchen and had a big supper of fried chicken, baked ham, mashed potatoes, freshly picked peas and a garden salad. For dessert, there was a cherry pie with homemade ice cream. The men helped to clear away the dishes and then went outside to sit under a tree. The ladies washed up the dishes and then joined them just as the sun was beginning to set. They sat, looking at the setting sun, talking and laughing until it was too dark to see. Stanley had just begun chasing fireflies when Mrs. Johnson informed him that it was time for him to take a bath and get ready for bed. After some complaint, Mrs. Johnson took him by the hand and escorted him into the house. Grampa Johnny told Pastor Johnson about some new books he had gotten and wanted to show him.

As most of them were headed into the house, Gram Susie touched Susie on the shoulder, sat down next to her and said, “Susie is there something you wanted to talk about?” Susie looked up at her Grammie and said. “Yes, there is. You see while we were on the train, I met this girl named Michelle. She actually goes to my school and well, we got talking and I was able to introduce her to Jesus and she accepted Him as her Saviour.” Gram Susie took both of Susie’s hands, “I am very proud of you little girl! Leading someone to know Jesus as their Saviour is just about the most important thing that anyone can do. What are you concerned about?” Susie looked up at the stars that were beginning to fill the night sky, “Grammie, I’m not sure how to pray for Michelle. I don’t want her to lose her new faith while she is visiting with her grandparents. I want Jesus to stay very close to her and guard her.”

Gram Susie, smiled and put her arm around her granddaughter, “Let’s pray together. Ok?” Susie nodded her head and then closed her eyes. Gram Susie prayed, “Dear God, please watch over Michelle with some special angels, keep her safe from the devil and surround her with people that love you like Susie here & I do. We love you Lord Jesus and we thank you for coming down to earth and dying for our sins. Help us to keep telling other people about you until you come back. Amen” Susie echoed the Amen and gave her Grammie a hug, “Thanks, Grammie. I knew you would know what to pray and I feel a lot better about it now.”

The two walked back to the farmhouse in the dark, hand in hand.

___________________________________________________________________

The next morning Johnny got up to see the sun streaming into his bedroom window. “Wonderful, a sunny day for a change” he thought to himself. “Dad said that he had something special that he wanted to do with me today. I wonder what it is?”

Johnny quickly got himself ready and went down to breakfast. His father was already at the table finishing his breakfast. “Hurry up son, we’ve got to get a move on and go see that something special I told you about.” Johnny poured himself some breakfast cereal and ate quickly and talked to his dad about a variety of things trying to get a hint about what the something special was and it did no good.

After finishing breakfast the two of them walked toward the section of their neighborhood where people had their stores. They walked past Mr. Anderson’s hardware store and it was closed. That was odd because it was normally open this hour of the morning. Johnny was surprised when his father wanted to go to Uncle Klaus & Aunt Harriet’s grocery store where Johnny worked. Uncle Klaus was finishing up with a customer at the cash register and motioned for them to come to him. “Thank you very much, Mrs. Olsen, I’ll have that roast for you tomorrow,” he told the customer as she gathered up her bags and left the store.

“Robert, I am so glad that you are here now. We have a few minutes and Harriet can watch the store.” He called to his wife, “Sweetheart, Robert and Johnny are here. Can you watch the front of the store for a few minutes?” “Yes I can, I am just finishing up with the Avocados, you boys go on out back for Johnny’s special surprise” came Aunt Harriet’s voice from the produce section.

“Johnny, you and your father come with me. We have something to show you out back.” Uncle Klaus walked quickly to the back of the store and opened the big swinging double doors that lead to the back room. Johnny and his father followed closely behind.

Once in the back room, Uncle Klaus headed for the back door that leads out into the alley where the delivery trucks come. He opened the back door and held it open for Johnny and his father to walk out into the alley. When Johnny stepped out into the alley, he saw Mr. Anderson standing with a bicycle. It was just like the one that he had saved up his money for. Mr. Anderson’s face broke out into a big wide grin. Johnny’s father touched him on the shoulder, “son Mr. Anderson, your Uncle Klaus and I have arranged a little surprise for you. Do you remember that bike that you saved up for and then Mr. Anderson had to sell?” Johnny looked at the bike and then up at his dad, “Yes…I sure do.” Then he looked at the bike again and at Mr. Anderson again and then at Uncle Klaus and then at the bike again.

Mr. Peterson leaned down and spoke directly to Johnny, “Son, we sort of got together and wanted to get you another one just like it. Mr. Anderson was able to special order one from the manufacturer exactly like the other one, Uncle Klaus and Mr. Anderson and I decided that we wanted you to have this as a gift from us. You don’t have to pay anyone for it and there is nothing that you did to earn it. It is just a free gift to you from us.”

Johnny tried for several seconds to say thank you but nothing would come out. Then suddenly he let out a “Yippee!” That seemed to break open the flow and Johnny rushed over to where Mr. Anderson was standing and he just repeated, “Thank you, Mr. Anderson. Thank you, Uncle Klaus, Thank you, Dad. Wow! Wow! Wow! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”

Finally, he turned to his father and said, “Would you mind if I rode it home, Dad?” Mr. Peterson was laughing and said, “I think that would be fine son. I would, I think that we all would be surprised if you didn’t”

Johnny repeated several more thank yous, put on the helmet hanging from the handlebars, jumped on the bike and headed for home.

___________________________________________________________________

One month later, when the Johnson family had finished their visit at the farm in Millville, they headed home on the train. Susie wanted to see the countryside again and wanted to see if that same seat in the observation car was free. As Susie headed up the stairs to the observation level, she heard a familiar voice. “Look here in Romans 5:8 it says that, ‘God demonstrates His own love for us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us!’ Does that make sense?”

Susie couldn’t believe her ears. She could see Michelle sitting with two other girls in that same seat sharing the gospel with them. Michelle looked up and saw Susie. She smiled a huge grin and invited Susie to sit with them.

When Susie and Michelle talked later, Susie found out that Michelle’s grandparents were also Christians and had been praying for her for a long time. They had encouraged her and taught her much about being a Christian. And that’s not all. Michelle’s mother had gotten a really good new job and found a house for them to live in within a few blocks of Susie, Johnny, and Andrea. They could all get together and become the best of friends and grow as Christians together.

Michelle did ask Susie where she had learned all of those verses that she had shared with her. Susie replied, “Oh…I learned all of these verses in our AWANA program.”

Advertisements

Passing the Faith Along – Part 4

Smiling broadly, Susie jumped up and said, “Come with me, I want you to meet my family.” Michelle pulled out a Kleenex from her purse, “Sure, I’d like that.”

When they got down to the sleeping compartment where her family was, she was all excited about introducing her new friend and was eager to tell her mom and dad about Michelle. As soon as she walked into the room Mrs. Johnson said, “Oh Susie, you are back just in time. We need to gather our things and put them back into our bags; the train will be arriving at our station in about 10 minutes. Please hurry and get packed.”

“Mom,” said Susie as she stepped aside to allow Michelle into the crowded compartment. “This is Michelle, I met her a little while ago up in the observation car and we got to talking and Michelle has just asked Jesus to be her Saviour and I want you all to meet her and get to know her in the little time that we have before we arrive.”

Mrs. Johnson got excited and welcomed Michelle as though she were a long-lost relative. (Well, that’s kind of true because now they are related as Christians.) They all talked excitedly and packed at the same time. Mrs. Johnson was delighted to know that Michelle was also from Crescent City and went to the same school as Susie, Johnny & Andrea. Pastor Johnson also became excited when he and Stanley returned to the little compartment. He sat down with Michelle and personally invited Michelle to bring her mother with her to church and Mrs. Johnson added that included an invitation for a Sunday afternoon meal with their family. Susie made sure that Michelle had their address and phone number so that they could see each other when they all got back to Crescent City. The train arrived at their stop and sad but happy goodbyes were said to Michelle. Susie took just a minute to say, “Michelle, I will be praying for you every day. I will ask God to help your mother find a good job and a place to live close to us. I am so glad that you asked Jesus into your heart. Here, I have a present for you. It’s a pocket Bible with all of those verses we looked up underlined in it. Call me when you get back to Crescent City, please!” She gave her a big hug and then got off the train, turned and waved goodbye to her new friend. Her eyes began to leak just a little with happy tears.

Michelle ran back up to her seat in the observation car and tried knocking on the window to get Susie’s attention, but the train depot was too noisy and she could not get their attention. As the train started up again to go on its way Michelle slumped down in her seat and said a little prayer. “Lord Jesus, this is Michelle. I’m not too good at praying yet, but thank you for Susie. Bless her a lot!” She began to cry softly into her folded arms.

On the platform, Susie was excited about leading Michelle to ask Jesus to be her Saviour. She began to pray that someone would pick up with Michelle where she left off. Then she saw her grandparents and began running toward them pulling her suitcase behind her. She got to Gram Susie first, let go of her suitcase and hugged her Gram really tightly. After a very long hug, Gram Susie pulled back and took a long look at her granddaughter and whispered to her, “Something tells me that you have something that you want to talk about. We’ll do that later, I promise.” Then Gram Susie saw Stanley hugging Grampa Johnny and said in her normal, strong voice, “Where is that grandson of mine? I want to hug him.” Grampa Johnny had a special hug for his son, Pastor Johnson. “What a fine family you have, son.” Pastor Johnson looked at his father and said with a smile on his face, “Thanks, Dad, I’m awful happy with them too.”

After both Gram Susie and Grampa Johnny had given Mrs. Johnson and hugs and greetings were given all around, everyone climbed into the van that Grampa Johnny had borrowed from their church and for the next several hours they traveled through the northern Minnesota countryside with big doses of talking, laughing and storytelling until they reached the farm.

Passing the Faith Along – Part 3

Michelle fell back in her seat and looked out the window again with a very sad look on her face, “I’m not so sure where we’re gonna be living. That’s part of the trouble my mom is having. She lost her job and we got kicked out of where we were staying because we couldn’t pay the rent and she’s trying to find a new job and a new place for us to live.” Then, turning to Susie, she smiled, cleared her throat and said, “Tell me about where you live? What is it like?”

Susie smiled and said, “We live in a really cool neighborhood with lots of little stores just south of Green Lake. We live six blocks from the school and right next to Grace Neighborhood Church. My dad is the pastor there.”

Michelle scooted forward on her seat again, “Your dad is a preacher? Wow, he must be really smart about the Bible and stuff. I’ve tried to read the Bible and me and my mom go to church sometimes, but we never stick around in one place long enough to go regularly. I like church. I wish we could go more often.”

Susie lit up like a Christmas tree, “You could come to our church. If you go to our school, you’re close enough to go to our church. You’d really like it.” Susie paused for just a few seconds and began praying under her breath, “Lord, help me to tell Michelle about you.”

“Michelle” she began, “have you ever asked Jesus to be your Saviour?” Michelle looked out of the window again, “No, I like church and the people are usually nice, but…I could never be as good as that.” “As good as what?” said Susie. “You know, sweet and sinless enough to get into heaven. Church is as close as I’ll ever get to heaven. I may not look like it to you, but, I’ve gotten into a good deal of trouble, I’ve…I’ve…well, you don’t really need to know. I don’t like talking about it.” Michelle pulled her legs back up underneath her again, crossed her arms and buried her face into them.

“You know Michelle, you don’t have to be good to get saved and go to heaven. I’m not all that good all the time, but I know that Jesus forgives my sins when I confess them to Him and because I have asked Him to be my Saviour, I will get to go to heaven and you can too. Do you want to know how I know?”

Michelle looked up from her arms and began to look straight into Susie’s eyes. “How?” she said. Susie switched over to the other seat next to Michelle and pulled out her pocket new testament. “Can I show you some verses from the Bible that will tell you?” Michelle looked intently at Susie and sat up, “Yes, I’d like that.”

“It’s actually all right here in the Epistle of Paul to the Romans, first we begin with Romans 3:23 which says that ‘All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’. You already told me that you know that you’re not perfect and, you know what? Nobody is.” “Boy you got that right” responded Michelle. Susie, continued, “In Romans 6:23a it says that ‘…The wages of sin is death…’ that means that all of us are going to die from our sin, but this kind of death means that we are all going to go to hell when we die.” Michelle shuddered, “I don’t like that. I thought that you were going to show me that I can go to heaven. I already know about hell.” Susie smiled and said, “Don’t worry, I’ll get to that. I just want to make sure that you understand about your sin.” “Oh, I understand all right, let’s get on to the other part” insisted Michelle. “You got it” continued Susie.

“In Romans 6:23b it says ‘…But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.’ You see salvation is a free gift from God to you!  There is nothing that you can do to earn this gift.” “But, I always thought that I needed to be good to go to heaven. Are you sure about that? What about all the things that I have done?” replied Michelle.

Susie turned a few pages to another verse, “Michelle, I know what you mean and look here in Romans 5:8 it says that, ‘God demonstrates His own love for us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us!’ Does that make sense?”

“Wait just a minute,” Michelle turned toward Susie, “What do you mean when you say that when Jesus died, He died for us. Who is ‘US’?” Susie looked right back at Michelle and said, “All of us. That includes me…and it includes you.”

“Whoa, I never knew that before! How does that work?” Susie’s face lit up again and turned a few more pages, “That’s my next point, listen to this…in Romans 10:13 it says ‘Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved!’ it doesn’t say anything about being good. All it says is that you should call on Jesus and you can be saved.”

Michelle looked thoughtfully out the window for a second and then said, “Susie, what does it say there what I have to do?” Susie answered her quickly, “It says here in Romans 10:9,10 that ‘…If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting  in salvation.’”

Michelle leaned back against the window, “Wow, that’s a lot to take in all at once. What do you mean that if I confess my sins to Jesus and accept Him as my Saviour that I can go to heaven? Do you really think that He wants me, Susie?” Susie leaned forward, “Listen to this, John 3:16  ‘For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.’ Michelle, that means He died for me AND He died for you.”

Michelle’s eyes began to swell up & glisten in the sun, “You really think that He died for me? Oh, that would mean so much to me.” Susie laid her hand on her new friend’s shoulder, “Michelle, I know that He died for both of us. Would you like to ask Jesus to be your Saviour right now?” Michelle responded, “Oh Susie, yes I would, how do I do that?”

Susie took both of Michelle’s hands, “Pray with me, I’ll lead you.” Michelle nodded, closed her eyes and bowed her head. Susie did the same, “Lord Jesus, you know that Michelle here wants to be your child, wants to know that you love her and died for her. I have shown her that from your Bible, Jesus. Now she would like to talk to you herself. Repeat after me, Michelle. Jesus, I know that I am a sinner. I also know that you are the Son of God and died for my sins so that I can be forgiven. I want to be your child, Lord. Please forgive my sins and come into my heart and be my Saviour. Thank you, Lord for loving me so much. Amen!”

After they finished praying, Michelle’s eyes were flowing with tears and she hugged Susie tightly, “Thank you Susie.”

___________________________________________________________________

It was quitting time for the day for Johnny. He hung up his apron and said his goodbyes to his aunt and uncle and headed home. He walked past Mr. Anderson’s hardware store where his…that bicycle used to be on display in the window. There was a riding lawn mower there now and a big gas barbecue. Johnny took a deep breath and let out a big sigh and then headed for home, kicking all the little rocks that he could find on the sidewalk all the way. It seemed like an especially long walk today.

The Unforgiving Servant – Part 2

When Johnny got home, the phone rang and it was Mr. Christopherson on the phone.

“Johnny, how are you doing?”

“I’m fine Mr. Christopherson, how are you? Is there something that I can do for you?” asked Johnny.

“There sure is, Johnny. I have a favor to ask of you.”

Johnny responded, “Sure Mr. Christopherson, what is it?”

The voice on the telephone continued, “Could you help me act out a Bible story tomorrow? We are going to do the story of the Unforgiving Servant and I need a couple of you kids to help me with it. Would you be willing to do that for me?”

Johnny replied enthusiastically, “Wow! You bet Mr. Christopherson. I’d love to help!”

“Great Johnny, thank you. Take some time to read the story tonight before you go to bed so you will know it for tomorrow. You can find it in Matthew chapter 18, verses 23 through 34. Can you do that for me?” asked Mr. Christopherson.

“Absolutely, I wrote the reference down and I will read the story through a couple of times tonight. Thanks for asking me to help, Mr. Christopherson!” he said.

“You bet, Johnny. I knew that I could count on you. I’ll see you in the morning.” Mr. Christopherson said.

“Yes sir, Mr. Christopherson. Goodnight.” Johnny hung the phone and then wondered what part he was going to play.

After dinner, Johnny went to his room so that he could read the story that Mr. Christopherson asked him to read. He picked up his Bible and read it through three times, wondering which part he was going to play. He hoped that it was not going to be that unforgiving servant.

That evening while Johnny was getting ready for bed, his thoughts bounced back and forth between the bicycle in the window at Anderson’s Hardware, Uncle Klaus saying that he wanted to help Johnny get the money to buy the bike and the Bible story that he had read.

By the time that he said his bedtime prayers and laid down to go to sleep, the bike and Uncle Klaus and the Bible story were running into each other in his head, each demanding his attention…the next thing he knew was someone was shaking him.

“Jonathon! Jonathon! Wake up; the king wants to see you. He wants to see you NOW!”

Johnny rolled over away from the voice and said, “I don’t care who it is, I just got to sleep and want to go back to sleep. Whoever it is can wait until morning.”

The shaking kept on and the voice was even more excitedly trying to get his attention,

“Jonathan it is the KING, you have to get up and go to see him immediately or he will throw you into prison.”

Johnny was finally starting to wake up and understand what was being said. He rolled over to the edge of the bed, sat up and slowly opened his eyes. What he saw shocked and confused him. Instead of his neat and spacious bedroom with modern furniture, he saw a rough stone floor, with rough wooden furniture.

The person trying to wake him up looked a lot like Jimmy Barski, but he had a really funny haircut and was wearing some kind of dress and sandals.

He was too shocked at first to say anything, but then Johnny tried to speak again and was able to say, “Who are you and where am I?”

“Oh Jonathan, you are always a jester, but now is not the time for His Majesty the King has called for all of his servants that he has loaned money to. He loaned you enough to buy that chariot that you are always racing around in. I am guessing that he wants to know when he is going to get paid back.”

Johnny was still trying to get his bearings and was wondering what Jimmy Barski was doing in his dream. He was sure that this was a dream. Maybe he shouldn’t have had that extra ice cream just before going to bed.

“Who are you,” Johnny asked. “Who am I? Have you taken leave of your senses?”

“Who am I? Have you taken leave of your senses?”

“Um, no,” Johnny said scratching his head.

“I am your brother James. Now, PLEASE, get up and go to the king. He is not a patient man.”

Johnny was beginning to realize that he was going to have to go along with Jimmy –or- James as he was calling himself. He reached down for his shoes and realized that all he had was a pair of leather sandals and he was wearing the same type of dress that Jimmy was. Not wanting to make any more of a fuss, he slipped his feet into the sandals and secured the straps.

Then he stood up and said, “I am feeling none too well, please lead me, brother.”

Two Brothers – Part 3

Cain had already arrived and sat staring into the whirling pools of the shallow water near the rock. His face was contorted with anger as he stared into the water. His heart was so heavy that he thought that it was going to fall out of his chest into the river. He had never felt so depressed or oppressed before in his life. Just as he was considering what to do next, he heard a voice. A voice he had never heard before, but he had no doubt about whose it was.

“Why are you so angry?” the LORD asked him. “Why do you look so dejected? You will be accepted if you respond in the right way. But if you refuse to respond correctly, then watch out! Sin is waiting to attack and destroy you, and you must subdue it.”

Cain stood staring at the sky for what seemed forever and then collapsed on the rock in a heap. He knew the Lord was right. But, there was something in him that would not accept it, that the wrong way against it. Pride had entered into his heart and would not relinquish it. Even for the Lord.

“Cain! Cain?” Abel shouted as he reached the spot where the two boys had spent so much time in their younger years.

When Cain heard that, he jumped up and turned quickly in the direction of his brother’s voice. “What? Haven’t you had enough of being the perfect one? Did you have to track me down to gloat?”

“That’s not why I came. I was worried about you. I had never seen you run from anything before in your life. I just came to see if you were all right, that’s all.” Abel stood next to his brother and tried to put his hand on his brother’s shoulder.

“Don’t touch me!” Cain shouted as he shoved Abel away. “I don’t want your sympathy or your sniveling superior attitude.” He began stepping toward his brother and pushing him violently away back toward the edge of the rock away from the river. Then he suddenly stopped and sat down on the rock.

Once he had regained his balance, Abel stood and stared at his brother for a few long moments and then said, “What is it Cain? We used to tell each other everything. We used to be best friends. But, the last couple of years…it…it seems like I don’t even know you anymore! What happened? Is it something that I have done? If it is, tell me. Let’s work it out. You’re my brother and I love you!”

Cain looked up at his brother with a thoughtful look on his face. He started to speak, “I…I…”, but nothing would come out. Then a thought occurred to him and Abel could see that something flashed across Cain’s face. Something that contorted it for just a moment into something horrible and disfigured. Then Cain’s face softened and looked like his brother again. The brother that he loved.

Then Cain said, “You’re right Abel, let’s talk about it and work it out. You know that section of the lower field that you brought your sheep across? Let’s walk over there and see if we can’t figure out a path for you to use regularly.” He stood up walked toward his brother, stretched out his arm and put it around Abel’s shoulder. They began walking toward the lower field together talking and laughing like the old days.

Once they reached their destination, something seemed to change in Cain. He got quiet suddenly. He stepped away from and behind his brother. He stooped as if to pick up a clod of soil to examine it, but picked up a rock instead. He then swung that rock in the direction of Abel’s head. The rock collided with Abel’s head and Abel slumped to the ground in a heap. Blood began to seep into the ground.

Cain stood over his brother’s body. Then he quickly dug a shallow grave with his hand out of the soft earth. He quickly buried his brother and then began to wander back in the direction of the river. He didn’t know where else to go. He walked slowly at first and then he began to run. Finally, he ran as fast as he could until he reached the rock again.

His chest was heaving and his heart racing. His mind also was racing, thinking trying to figure a way out of, out of…what he had done. He was a tangled knot of emotions. Angry, sad, fearful, defiant, happy, confused and dazed. Into that fog came the voice he had heard just an hour or so ago.

Creation: The First Day

Creation: The First Day

By God

Adapted by S. C. Mathisen

Sometimes teaching the Bible to small children can be as humorous as it is rewarding. Picture, if you will, one veteran Sunday School teacher teaching the story of creation with a group of early elementary students. In this group, there is one particularly precocious student who is the youngest son of the pastor.

“Hey guys, remember we were going to start going through all the stories in the Bible? Well, today is the day we are going to start. We’ll be talking about how God created everything. The Bible tells us that it took God seven days to create the whole world. Today, we are just going to talk about the first day….”

Stanley interrupts, “Whoa! Mr. Mathisen, do you mean God created everything? Are you sure you mean absolutely, completely, positively, everything in the universe, EVERYTHING? They told us in school that it might have been something called a big boom or bang or something.”

“Yes, Stanley, I mean everything. If we look in the Bible in Genesis Chapter One, we can read all about it.

“It says here that: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was empty, a formless mass cloaked in darkness. And the Spirit of God was hovering over its surface.”

“Whoa!! What does that formless mass stuff mean? It sounds like what I get when I play with Play-Doh.”

“Well, Stanley, you’re not too far off. Let’s imagine for a minute with our eyes closed that we are floating in the air except that it is totally dark and there is nothing there at all. Then God creates something, but He hasn’t given it any shape yet. It’s just a blob like your Play-Doh. Only you can’t see it because there is no light. God hasn’t created that part yet. So there you are, floating in empty space with nothing but a blob of Play-Doh. Oh yes, it also says that the Spirit of God is there with you. So you’re not all alone. Just like today when we are never alone because when we have Jesus in our hearts, He is always with us. Isn’t that fantastic, Stanley…Stanley…(louder) Stanley!”

Stanley, coming back to earth, “Oops sorry, I was having fun floating with God’s Spirit.”

“OK, Stanley. Let’s go on. So the next part says, “Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.””

“Ooh, ooh,” injected Stanley, “we had a lamp like that once. All you had to do was clap your hands or make a loud noise, and the light came on. It was so cool!”

“I’m sure it was Stanley, but God didn’t have a lamp or electricity to plug it into or anything. The only thing that God used was His Word. The only other thing there was the blob and His Spirit.”

“And me, remember I’m floating there.”

“That’s right, and now you can see because God created light.”

“Right!! WOW! How cool!”

“Now let’s see, what comes next? Oh yes. “And God saw that it was good.” This is important because we need to remember that everything that God creates is good. We can use the good things that God created for sinful purposes.”

“Do you mean like a rock or my baseball. I can use it to play catch with but not to throw it at my sister?”

“Exactly Stanley. When you play catch with it, it is being used for good. When you do something bad with it, you are using it for evil. That is one of the choices that we get to make every day. Anyway, let’s get back to the story.”

“That would be good, right?”

“Right, now, where did we leave the story? Oh yes, God created the light and called it good. Next, we have: “Then he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day” and the darkness “night.” Together these made up one day.” Let’s just imagine watching God take all of the light and moving it to one side so that the light and darkness are not mixed up.”

“That’s not what I do with my Play-Doh. It gets all mixed up and looks ugly after awhile. I can’t separate it anymore. I just throw it away.”

“That’s part of what makes God so wonderful Stanley. He can do things that you and I cannot do. But we can also see here that created the first day separated it from the night, and that was His work for the first day.”

“What happens next? This is a pretty interesting story.”

“That’s all for this week. Make sure that you read the story at home and come back next week for the second day.”

The Garden Gate – Conclusion

By this time, Horace had had enough and decided to put his own two cents in. He cleared his throat and said in his most official voice, “Young lady, please remove yourself from the entrance to my home or I shall be forced to take steps to have you removed!”

“Who ARE you?” Amanda asked. Horace then flew down to a lower branch so that she could more easily see him. “Oh, yes, please forgive my poor manners. My name is Horace Alexander Bumpworth III. This tree is my home, the plumbing has gone out of whack, and the plumbers have just arrived only to find you sitting directly in front of the entrance to my elevator and since beavers cannot climb a tree that is their only way in. So…can you please move yourself so that they can get in?”

Now it took Amanda just a moment to realize what she was being told and then jumped up to clear the way saying, “Oh yes, I am very sorry, I didn’t know.”

Horace replied, “That’s quite alright, no harm done. Maury, would you please go and get the beavers back here so that they can go on with their work?” Maury said, “Sure Horace, right away.

Amanda watched Maury fly off to retrieve the beavers and then looked at Horace who asked, “And who might you be, young lady?”

With a slight hesitation, because she had never spoken to an owl before, Amanda replied, “My name is Amanda Applewhite. I live with my father on a farm in, in…” Amanda looked all around trying to get her bearings and realized that she was not quite sure which way was home. “It’s in that direction,” she said pointing west.

Horace ruffled his feathers, gave a little hoot, and said, “Well, it seems that you have gotten yourself lost. Perhaps you should turn right around and head home right away. You wouldn’t want to anyone to worry about you, so off you go! Goodbye! On your way!” Then he flew back up to his front porch.

Amanda just stood there staring at Horace as he perched about halfway up the tree. She realized that unless she looked really hard she couldn’t see that there was a little structure sticking out of the tree. Horace opened what looked like a little door and went inside. She then thought that she could hear a door close. She shook her head, looked around the clearing for the beavers and didn’t see a thing. She looked up again and tried to see Horace’s front porch again and it wasn’t there! Amanda closed her eyes, shook her head again, looked all around, and could see no trace of the owl or the beavers.

She closed her eyes and began to rub them. She was just starting to think that she had imagined it all when she opened her eyes again and found that herself yawning and stretching her arms. She realized that she was sitting down and leaning up against the tree again. She could hear the buzz as a dragonfly went close by her ear towards the stream and then up into a shaft of sunlight before disappearing.

Amanda wondered if she had just dreamed the whole thing, shook her head again and then headed home. She had a real story to tell her dad, but she was not sure exactly what to tell him. When she got to the place where the garden gate was, she opened it, walked through and closed it. She walked a little ways toward where she had entered into the forest and turned around. The path was gone. She took a couple of steps back toward the gate and now it was gone too. She stood and stared for just a minute, reached back and felt a lump on the back of her head. “Ouch!” she said out loud and was surprised by the sound of her own voice. Her head hurt and she decided that she had better go home.

When she reached the edge of the forest, she could see that the sun was getting low in the sky. It was then that she realized that she had a bunch of wildflowers in her hand. She turned toward home and ran.