by Diane Stark

What’s wrong, Mom? You seem upset,” my 15-year-old daughter, Julia, asked.
I shrugged. “I met my friend Susan for coffee this afternoon. We got into an argument about something, and it’s really bothering me.”
“You argued with Susan? About what?”
“Honestly, we fought about religion.”
“I thought Susan was a Christian too.”
“She is, but the way she perceives God is far different than the way I understand Him.”
“What do you mean?”
I sighed. I still couldn’t believe I’d argued with one of my closest friends. “Susan thinks that God is keeping track of our sins, so He can use them against us later. It’s like that stereotypical perception of God sitting in Heaven with His lightning bolts, ready to zap us when we mess up.”
Julia nodded. “And how do you see God?”
“Way different than that. My God is rooting for me to do well, not hoping for me to mess up. He loves me and forgives me like a loving Father should. My God isn’t keeping track of my sins because I believe that He has already forgiven me. Jesus paid the price for my sins on the cross, so in God’s eyes, my sins have already been erased.”
My daughter nodded again. “I like your version of God much better.”
“Me too. And I think my perception of Him is proven in the Bible.”
Julia thought for a minute. “There’s that Christian song about how God has cast our sin as far as the east is from the west. Isn’t that song based on a Bible verse?”
I nodded. “It’s Psalm 103:12. I told Susan about that verse. And I told her the one about God throwing our sins into the depths of the sea (see Micah 7:19) and the verse about our sins being washed as white as snow (see Isaiah 1:18). But none of it mattered. She thinks God is keeping track of her mistakes so he can punish her or shame her with them later.” I took a deep breath, fighting tears. “It just breaks my heart that someone so close to me perceives God that way. I feel like I have to convince her that God’s love for us knows no bounds and that our sin doesn’t change the way he feels about us.”
Julia shrugged. “I wish I could help you, Mom, but I don’t know that many Bible verses. But I will pray for you and Susan. Plus, I have a math test tomorrow.” She kissed my cheek and headed to her room.
Two hours later, Julia came running down the stairs. She was carrying her math book and her Bible. “Mom, I did it!” She yelled. “I figured out a way to help Susan understand.” Before I could respond, she opened her geometry book. “I was studying for my test on geometric proofs. We learned this theorem that says if A = B and B = C then A = C.” She looked at me triumphantly.
I stared back helplessly. “Sweetie, I haven’t done geometry in 20 years, and I really have no idea what you’re talking about.”
She opened the Bible, turned to 1 John 4:8 and read, “God is love. So God equals love.” She then turned to 1 Corinthians 13:5 and read, “Love keeps no record of wrongs. Mom, if God equals love and love equals no record of wrongs then that means God keeps no record of wrongs.” She smiled. “If A = B and B = C then A = C. It’s a proven mathematical fact.”
I tried to answer, but the lump in my throat was too big. I just pulled her into my arms and hugged her. “Thank you, Sweetheart,” I murmured through tears. “The fact that you cared enough to reason that out means the world to me.”
“But I’m right, Mom, and I proved that you are right. God isn’t like Susan’s Lightning Bolt God at all. He’s a loving Father who forgives His children. He’s for us, Mom, just like you said.”
I smiled at Julia, and together, we prayed that God would give me an opportunity to share Julia’s geometry proof with Susan and that God would use it to show her His great love for her.
Jesus is the proof of God’s love, and because of Him, we can be completely forgiven. Being completely forgiven means that God looks for the good in us and overlooks the bad.

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