“Poppa, why do people have to fight all the time?”
Selena’s chestnut eyes turned from the television and looked toward her grandfather for reassurance. Poppa knows everything. Surely he could explain why the Israel people on the news were fighting with those other people called Palace-something-or-others. She remembered from Sunday school, that the Israels were God’s people. Why would anyone want to fight them?
“Well sweet pea,” Poppa explained, “some people believe war is the best way to create peace. You see, war and peace often go hand in hand. Sometimes, through the devastation of war, a lasting peace is the end result. God can turn all things bad, into something good.”
Studying those innocent eyes and the slight twitch of her head, Poppa felt Selena’s five-year old comprehension slipping away.
“So the Israels…” she started.
“Israelis, sweetheart.” Poppa said, smiling.
“Oh, so the Israelis want to keep fighting the Palace-people…”
“…Palestinian peoples, because they want to have peace?” Selena asked. She searched Poppa’s smiling gray eyes for understanding, but just couldn’t find it.
“Not exactly, honey.” Poppa was genuinely stomped. He had spent most of his adult life negotiating multimillion dollar deals for one of the big three automakers. The knack for conveying understanding during pressure situations ran through his veins. He was a natural speaker. But right now, he was having the darnedest time trying to explain war to his five year old granddaughter.
As he gazed into her beautiful dark eyes, he saw the future. He envisioned Selena signing a peace treaty, calling an end to hundreds of years of bloodshed between two mortal enemy nations. It was possible, and it might all start here. The next few words he chose, just might shape her personality.
Poppa was quiet for a long time, Selena thought. Maybe her question was too hard for him to answer. But that couldn’t be right. Poppa knows everything. Suddenly, he was smiling big. She could see the funny little lines running through his cheeks when he smiled, and he was calling her to jump in his lap.
Selena bounded from her spot on the living room floor, and jumped. Poppa’s strong, soft arms wrapped her up in a bear hug. His mustached, prune lips kissed her forehead, as he began to rock back and forth in the chair.
“Do you remember any of the stories in the Old Testament, sweet pea?” Poppa asked.
“Uh, huh. I remember the Israel people are in lots of them.” Selena answered.
“That’s right.” Poppa said. “A lot of those great stories tell of the good times and the bad times, the original people of Israel had to go through. God’s people endured times of war due to sin, but they also rejoiced in times of peace, when their sins were forgiven.”
Selena squinched, trying to grasp the idea.
“You see honey, God’s chosen people, including you and me, are always at war with the invisible forces of the devil. Sometimes, the evil one makes people physically attack God’s people. When bad people attack good people, the good people try to fight back. Do you see?” Poppa’s gentle weathered face soothed the little girl’s questioning spirit.
“I think.” Selena said. “The devil makes bad people beat up the nice people? Is that why people fight all the time?”
“Sometimes yes; Sometimes no, sweet pea. There are times when people make bad choices and God allows them to be attacked. Not really to punish them…” Poppa was saying as Selena interrupted.
“Like, when I don’t clean my room and Mommy makes me sit there all day! I hate cleaning my room.” She said.
“Yes honey, like Mommy is trying to teach you a lesson. God does the same thing with his people, when we make bad decisions. He tries to make us see the error of our ways, because he loves us. When we see our mistakes and apologize, to God, for making them, that’s called repentance.” Poppa explained.
“Repeat-ance.” Selena said.
“Close, but not quite. R.E.P.E.N.T.A.N.C.E.” Poppa spelled out. “Repentance.”
“Repentance. So is that why the Israels and Palace people are fighting, Poppa? Do they need the repentance to Jesus?” Selena asked.
“Maybe, sweet pea. Only God knows that answer.”
Selena smiled at her grandfather. She decided war was hard to understand, but Poppa made her feel better just by talking about it anyway.
“Poppa, you know everything. Do you know when Jesus is coming back?” She asked with a grin.
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