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Faith in the Man Upstairs

A young girl’s hope and faith are strengthened by her grandpa’s stories about God.

Finding faith in the Man Upstairs

Most of the kids in my town spent Sundays in church.

My parents worked our family car dealership from Monday to Saturday. They had too many chores to catch up with on Sunday for church. So when I had questions about God—and I had a lot—I went to Grandpa.

Every summer I visited my grandparents’ farm. Each morning after breakfast I followed Grandpa to the barnyard where he fed the animals. “They depend on us,” he told me as he poured fresh water for the cows one morning, “and they appreciate what we do for them.”

“God made animals, didn’t he, Grandpa?” I asked. “And people?”

“The Man Upstairs made everything on this earth, and everything in the heavens too,” he said.

The Man Upstairs was Grandpa’s special name for God. I never heard him call God anything else. When the animals were all set, I followed Grandpa out to the garden and helped him pull weeds from around the tomato plants. “Get your hands down there in the soil,” he told me. “Don’t be afraid to get dirty.”

I pulled the weeds just as Grandpa showed me. For each handful, I asked a handful of questions. “What happens in heaven? How do you get there? Does everyone go?”

If Grandpa was annoyed by my pestering he didn’t show it. “Why, you meet the Man Upstairs!” he said. “You float up through the clouds and into the sky beyond. We’ll all see each other up there one day, happy as can be with the angels in heaven.”

Despite Grandpa’s expert knowledge about God, he didn’t attend church on Sundays either. At least, not the church Grandma did. Grandpa didn’t feel comfortable looking for the Man Upstairs in a building. Not when his big, beautiful world was waiting outside.

So that Sunday morning, when Grandma sat inside church, Grandpa packed me into his old truck. We drove up the big bluff on the south side of the farm to the meadow that served as his chapel.

We parked under the oak trees and got out. Grandpa snapped the tailgate down and lifted me onto it. Then he took off his beat-up hat and gazed up at the sky. I leaned back, dangling my legs over the tailgate. I waited until I could stand the silence no more.

“What are you doing, Grandpa?”

“Talking to the Man Upstairs.”

“About what?”

“Anything at all. I asked about my mother and father who are up there in heaven with him. Now I’m going to wait to hear his answer back to me.”
Grandpa went quiet. I looked at the sky, a dozen more questions forming in my head.

“How do you know if—?”

“Hush,” Grandpa said, pressing his finger to his lips. “If you’re quiet you’ll hear his voice in the wind. Now just listen. Listen.”

I sat up, cupping my hand around my ear, straining to hear what my grandpa could hear. The wind rustled the leaves above my head. Then, within the sound of the breeze in the trees, I heard a whisper of a voice. “I hear him, Grandpa!” I whispered. “I hear the Man Upstairs!”

There it was, right on the wind, what seemed like the tangible answer to all my questions. Maybe every single question I could ever ask. Because the truth came down to one thing: God was real. He knew me and wanted me to know him. He heard my questions, and he wanted me to listen for his answers.

It’s been years since I dangled my legs off Grandpa’s tailgate. But it was there in that meadow that I learned everything I needed to know. God was present in Grandpa’s chapel under the sky, just as sure as he was in Grandma’s church. A whisper on the wind told me so.

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