Guest Editorial

Monday, July 8, 2002

P.S. - God, can you fly?

The Westminster Press recently announced publication of a new book titled, "P.S. God, Can You Fly?" It is authored by R. Wayne Willis, pastor and chaplain in a childrens hospital. It's young patients are victims of life-threatening diseases including cancer.

When it is possible, he takes each child into the chapel and talks with them about God and prayer. Wisely, he suggests they write a prayer note to God and ask him any questions they would like to have answered and leave the note on the chapel altar.

The book is a collection of those simple but profound prayers to God. The author reminds his readers, "The children really mean what they pray." They don't use church pulpit style words some adults feel are necessary when approaching God.

The author reports on thirty of the prayer questions left on the children's chapel altar and on his attempt to answer for God.

The book's title, "P.S. God, Can You Fly," taken from one youngster's prayer note, brings back precious memories of being a pastor of four churches and serving my denomination at its national level. Pastors know Sunday school classes, children's sermons, Catechism classes and mid-week youth programs provide a setting for questions children ask God or about him and his plans for their lives.

When God is discussed, the usual question is, "What is God like?" Some attempt to answer that question by asking another "Is God an old man sitting on a throne in Heaven?" The most intriguing question I recall was asked by a sharp little five year old; A pastor-stumping one: "Who was God's Father and Mother?'

I remember another youngster who asked, "Is God like Santa Claus?" I felt he was worried a "Santa Claus like God" in keeping with the popular Christmas Song was "Making a list and checking it twice to see who is naughty or nice."

I discovered Adam and Eve in the creation account was an interesting subject for youngsters to discuss. In an attempt to encourage them to read their Bibles, I often asked, "What kind of fruit did God forbid them to eat in the Garden of Eden?" This was usually followed by the wrong answer, "An apple." I followed this by suggesting they ask their parents to help them find the right answer in the second chapter of Genesis. Excited, youngsters would come to the next class with the question, "Pastor, was it the fruit of the tree of Good and Evil?" - The Right Answer.

I recall being surprised on one occasion when "Jesus" was the subject of discussion with a group of older children and one asked, "Did Mary have a baby before she and Joseph were married?" Evidently this had been talked about at home. Fortunately this opened the door for explaining God through the Power of the Holy Spirit fathered her child.

Family experiences create questions in the minds of children. When explaining God as Father spelled with a capital, one boy asked, "Is God like my Father?" and bitterly added, "I hope not!"

At times pastors are backed into corners with unanswerable questions. The best advice is to explain God has wonderful plans for us. We must patiently wait to see what they are. This Chaplain Willis had to do with some of his small hospital bound friends.

God Bless.

Clarence C. Richardson is a retired Storm Lake pastor and a regular contributor to the Pilot-Tribune.