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The Question of a Six-Year-Old

How believing in a higher power helped her explain God to her granddaughter.

From her earliest babyhood, my little granddaugher, now age six, has crawled into bed with me in the mornings when I go up to visit her family. That is our special time to snuggle and talk. Her parents are not church-goers, but ever since she was three years old she’s asked me to tell her Jesus stories.

On my most recent visit, I told her about Jesus healing the Centurion’s daughter. “Oh, I love that story,” she said happily. When it was finished we both lay in bed, silent a moment, thinking it over. Then she said, “I don’t believe in God.”

Imagine my surprise. Reaching for help I sent out a silent prayer: God, what do I say? And the words came easily.

“That’s all right. You don’t have to. Just remember the message of Jesus—be kind to one another. Forgive offenses. Love one another. And notice all the things you have to be grateful for.” We were quiet a moment longer. 

“No one knows what God is,” I said. “It’s a word we use to explain a Great Mystery. It’s invisible. Impossible to see or understand. But we know there’s something out there bigger than us and it’s on our side. It loves us…You don’t have to believe. Lots of people don’t. But remember this: Whenever you’re in trouble, all you have to do is call out, “HELP!” And help will always come. Even if you don’t believe.”

And I told her how once an angel saved my life.

Then we got up and went downstairs to breakfast, and we never mentioned it again.

Weeks have passed now. I keep thinking of the conversation. Was there something better to say? What do you say to a six-year-old? What should I have said?

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