“Today’s story is a very pretty one. The little pickle Melha went right up to her nearly blind father and pointed to one of the pictures on the wall – one of the Lord calling a little child to Him – and said, ‘Look at Jesus.’
‘I have no eyes O my daughter – I cannot see,” was the answer.
The baby thing lifted head and eyes to the picture and said, ‘O Jesus, look at father!’ Was that not a bit of heavenly wisdom?” Diary 28 July 1909
The best-selling book, Letters to God, was published in 1991 delighting a readership with children’s directness, humor and startling clarity of expression. For example: “Dear God, I do not think that anybody could be a better God. Well I just want you to know but I’m not just saying that because you are God already. Charles.” Perhaps more compelling, personally, are those candid conversations that arise spontaneously in the context of everyday living. Just as I treasured my own children’s observations about God, now I relish accounts of their children’s observations. (“Write them down,” I warn my adult children. “You’ll be surprised what you’ll forget.”)
An eight year old Kiersten, hiking a rocky hill, clasping her mother’s hand as they climbed the steep terrain: “You are like Jesus to me – holding my hand and helping me. I feel safe with you.”
A conversation overheard between six-year-old Davis and his four year sister. “Audra, did you know that God can juggle houses?!” A matter-of-fact Audra, “Yeah, I know.”
Children played an important role in Lilias’ life. During her early years in Algeria, Lilias discovered that children were the key to access to Arab families. Little gifts of “bon bons” for the children and pincushions for their mothers never failed to open both their houses and their hearts. Later, through the decades, a parade of little girls came in and out of their home: some taking up permanent residency, others being given a bed off the street for the night. The pages of her diaries are illuminated with sketches and paintings along with whimsical and tender vignettes of these irrepressible scamps that captured her heart and those of her colleagues bringing joy (and challenges!) with their merry presence and disarming insight.
Little Melha was one such child. A wild bit of a girl, with dark eyes and long black lashes, she continually beguiled them with her quaint ways and wise observations. With her simple request, “O Jesus, look at father!” she inferred, on behalf of her sightless father, a profound truth: the presence of an all-seeing God. So often, a child receives in trust, what we adults labor to believe. How can God possibly see us all at once? How can He keep everything within His sight or care? We attempt to reason out a mystery that confounds and transcends our human understanding. Yet, throughout scripture, this is affirmed: “The eyes of the Lord are in every place” (Proverbs 15:3) “… no creature is hidden from His sight” (Hebrews 4:13) “My eyes will watch over them for their good.” (Jeremiah 24:6)
Perhaps that is why Jesus gathered children to him and upheld them as an example: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom God like a little child will never enter it.” Certainly a logical God did not intend to frustrate our minds with inconsistency and illogic. At the same time the created can never presume to fully comprehend the mind of the Creator. C. S. Lewis observed: “That is one of the reasons I believe in Christianity. It is a religion you could not have guessed. If it offered us just the kind of universe we had always expected, I should feel we were making it up. But, in fact, it is not the sort of thing anyone would have made up. It has just that queer twist about it that real things have.”
An elderly couple, much afflicted by ill-health and immobility, was asked the secret of their bright hopefulness. Without hesitation the wife answered , “His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.” Civilla Martin went home that evening and penned the verses of a simple gospel song, concluding with this joyful refrain:
I sing because I’m happy,
I sing because I’m free,
His eye is on the sparrow,
So I know he watches me.
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny. And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father… So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 1:24-31 )
Painting: Color plate from Between the Desert & the Sea