Saturday, June 30, 2012

God, George Washington, and Me

     When I was six years old my parents entered me in religious instruction classes.  The classes took place on Saturday morning, prime cartoon viewing time even then.  I remember the teacher standing at the front of the room telling us that we were going to learn about Jesus, who sits at God's  right hand and God the Father.
     There were two portraits conveniently placed above the blackboard behind her.  The portrait on the right was of Jesus blessing the children.  
     While this is not the same picture from my childhood, it conveys the same warm feeling.  There were more children gathered around and touching Jesus.   Jesus was wearing a favorite bathrobe and slippers.   Jesus obviously liked children and they, Him.  He did not look like He minded their sticky fingers.  Jesus looked kind and caring.  In the picture I remember, Jesus even had a little pet lamb.  Jesus looked like the kind of adult a child would want to know.
     On the left side was what I thought was a picture of God.  It was a copy of a well known portrait of George Washington.
     The picture of God was not friendly at all.  God looked very stern and unapproachable.  He had long white hair and a fierce hooked nose.  His clothes were long and dark.  God wore funny looking shoes, and from the expression on his face, they appeared to be pinching his toes.  He looked like the kind of man who might be a principal - someone who held people to rules and handed out punishments.  I was pretty sure that I would get in trouble with him.
     It was years before this case of mistaken identity was cleared up.  In fact, when I saw filmstrips with George Washington on them, I thought he had become President because of his resemblance to God.  George Washington may have been the Father of Our Country, but he was not God the Father.  
     My husband, Pat, will tell you that I do sometimes get in trouble with George Washington.  His picture is on the dollar bill.
     My son, Anthony, was so much smarter than me.  When he was six he told me, "Mommy.  I have God's face."  
     I must have looked a little skeptical.
     "Yes.  My Sunday School Teacher told me so."
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him,
male and female he created them.  ~Genesis 1:26-27
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’  “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?   When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’   “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’  Matthew 25:34-40 
     Look gently into the faces of those around you.  We are not God, but we are His hands, His feet, and His Face to the people we meet everyday.
     When you pictured God as a child, what did He look like?

Linking to:  Think on These Things.


Dimple said...

This is beautiful.
I don't remember having a picture of God when I was a child...and I can't say I have one of him now, either. But I know he is good, and caring, and willing to hold me accountable for what I believe, do, and say.

The Singing Nurse said...

Nice Donna, I used to put a bible under my pillow as a child hoping that would give me protection. I had little childhood training, one camp experience with my best friend. Her grandmother was a Christian. It's amazing the influences all along the way that brings us to our final decisions for Christ. Dawn

Liz @ Quirky Vistas said...

I think it is fantastic that your teacher had George Washington on the wall next to Jesus. She was onto something that has been discarded by those who want to rewrite history. Children aren't taught about Jesus or George Washington much these days. I think it's evident in our culture. As a child, I think I pictured God as an older wise and protective man who was always there. I guess I was seeing him as a Father. Still do. Thanks for sharing your beautiful story. I enjoyed it.

Maggie Ann said...

What a blessing to read! Thank you for sharing this post.

MarveLes Art Studios said...

Interesting and funny, Donna! I enjoyed reading it. I'm not sure I have a memory of 'what God looked like" but it gives me pause to think more about it! Yes, we have his face... that is a good thought, for sure. Smart boy!

Liz @ Quirky Vistas said...

Thanks for coming by and leaving me a sweet and encouraging comment about my Banner of Freedom post. By the way, I love the post above from the baseball game. Looks like lots of fun and smiles were had by all. Can't beat that!

BARBIE said...

I never had a concept of God as a child, not growing up in a Christian home. To me, He was distant, yet loving, but harsh at times. I love that you had that picture of Jesus with the little children growing up.

GratefulPrayerThankfulHeart said...

Such a dear story from your childhood and how innocent that you thought George was God. And so wonderful that Anthony understands he was created in god's image :)

Wendy @ E-1-A said...

Love this story! I remember drawing a picture of what I thought God looked like with Him holding up His hand saying: "I will fight for you". I actually came across that same text this morning!!!

Unknown said...

Thank you, Wendy. I have a post you might want to read called I Will Fight For You that you might be interested in reading. It is here.

Laurie said...

I so enjoyed reading this post - it brought back memories of when I was a little girl attending Sunday School and there was a picture of Jesus holding a little lamb. I love Anthony's comment about having God's face and the blessing we have in knowing we are made in His image!

Darlene Payan said...

I absolutely loved this! I can see how a child would think that way in George Washington being God; when my husband was pastoring a church, we had our family portraits up and someone asked a little girl who each person was? We,, she got it all right but for my husband she said "That's Jesus. I will share your story with my friends, it is sooo cute.


Richella Parham said...

What a great story! George Washington was a man who loved and feared God, I think, but we never had his portrait in our Sunday school classrooms!

May we all look more and more like Jesus with every passing year. :)

Naomi said...

Donna...great post! A wonderful reminder that we are created in His image and are His hands and feet in this world. Thank you for sharing at WJIM.

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