The following is based on a true story my mother has told countless children over the years as she taught them about our Heavenly Father who loves and forgives us of our sins.
My mother came from a large family of eight children. They'd lost their Iowa farm during the depression and after a brief stay on the poor farm, my grandfather moved his family into a tiny run-down house (with no electricity or indoor plumbing) on the edge of a very small town in central Iowa. Although my grandfather was a very hard worker, times were tough and what little money he earned was often spent on alcholol. Life was hard to say the least.
One day, when my mother was eight years old, she and her six year old sister were busily digging up potatoes in the large garden which was an important source of food for the family. Afterward, they were elated to see my grandfather pull a quarter out of his pocket. Twenty-five cents! Why they could go uptown and each get a bottle of pop and a candy bar or ice cream plus there would be a nickel left over. Imagine their disappointment when their dad handed my mother the quarter and told the girls they could each have a nickel.
My mother put the quarter in a little coin purse and they headed uptown. On the way to the cafe/store however, they began to complain to one another. Instead of being grateful for the unexpected cash gift, they began to "murmer and complain". Somehow this story has a familiar ring to it.
They had worked very, very hard. They hadn't been treated fairly at all! They were entitled to something more and they weren't going to stand for it!
When they arrived at the cafe, my mom bought a bottle of pop and a candy bar. Her little sister bought a bottle of pop and an ice cream cone. After enjoying their treat, they formed a plan on their way home. Hopefully their dad would not ask for the change. Sometimes he didn't. However, if he did, they decided to pretend they had lost the money.
After supper that night, my grandmother mentioned they were out of bread. My grandfather pulled a dollar out of his wallet and stopped.
"I gave the girls a quarter today and told them they could each have a nickel. Get the change from them. That's enough for a loaf of bread."
My mother got the coin purse and tried not to watch my grandmother open it.
"Why, there's only a nickel in here. Where's the other dime."
My mother tried to act very surprised. "It must have got lost..."
Later that evening, my grandmother carefully examined the purse. The next morning she confronted my mother.
"I can't imagine how you could have lost the money. There are no holes in the purse. The clasp is secure."
My mom felt miserable as she shook her head and maintained that the money must have been lost.
My grandmother said nothing more at the time. Later that day, her older sister came bounding into the kitchen with some news which shed light on everything. Her best friend had been in the cafe the day before and had seen everything. Oh no.
Since my mom was the oldest, she was the one who had to confess to the crime.
My mom releuctantly headed into the living room where her father was reading the paper.
Her eyes filled with tears as her voice trembled. "Daddy, I'm sorry."
Her father put down the paper and looked at his little daughter. "For what?" With a sob, the whole story came out. How angry her father would be!
Her father suddenly swept her up into his lap and wrapped his arms around his little girl. He'd seen her tears and heard the sorrow in her voice. He held her tightly in his arms.
"I forgive you."