Where Did He Put the Elephants?

"Mom, you told us that we should never tell a lie," 9-year-old Luke said as he got into the car after church.

"That's right," Jenny responded. "God wants us to always tell the truth."

"Then I don't want to go back to Sunday school ever again!" Luke said angrily.

elephant"Why not?" his mother asked. "What happened?"

"My Sunday school teacher told us a whole bunch of lies this morning!" Luke responded.

"When we get home you can tell me all about it," his mother said as she steered the car out of the church parking lot and onto the road.

Luke didn't say a word during the 20-minute trip home. As soon as Jenny had parked the car in the garage, Luke opened the door and ran inside the house. He climbed the steps up to the second floor two at a time and headed straight to his bedroom.

"Luke, wait!" his mother called just before Luke slammed his bedroom door.

I'll give him a few minutes to calm down, Jenny thought as she changed her clothes. I wish that Mike were here to talk to him.

Luke's dad, a soldier in the Army, had been stationed overseas for almost a year. Although Luke didn't talk about missing his dad, his father's absence had obviously affected him in many ways.

"He gets upset more easily now," Jenny commented aloud to herself. "Sometimes I feel like I'm not getting through to him. When he was younger he would confide in me, and I could reassure him. Now he often shuts me out."

Jenny went into the living room and knelt down by the couch.

"Lord, I'm out of answers," she prayed. "I can't raise Luke by myself, and Mike's not scheduled to be home for several more months. Please give me wisdom. Show me how to reach Luke."

She felt a little calmer after sharing her concerns with God.

"Maybe I should call my brother and ask him if he could come over and spend an hour or two with Luke."

"Jeremy," she spoke softly into her cell phone, "could you come over for a little while? Luke is having a hard time today. He's really upset about something that happened in Sunday school . . . I don't know exactly what it was. He's up in his bedroom, and I don't think he wants to talk to me right now . . . Okay, thanks."

Fifteen minutes later, Jeremy rang the doorbell.

"I'm so glad that you're here," Jenny said as she let him in. "Luke really looks up to you--the big football hero!"

"I'm no football hero, and you know it," Jeremy responded as he give his sister a hug."

"Hey, little brother, you were the quarterback that won the game and brought the university nationwide attention!"

"I was a member of the team who did his job, just like all the other team members," he countered.

Jeremy quickly climbed the stairs and knocked on Luke's bedroom door.

"Hey, Luke, it's Jeremy," he called out cheerily. "Can I come in? I need to talk to you about something."

Luke opened the door just enough to let Jeremy enter. Then he quickly shut it again.

"What's up, Jeremy?" he asked, as he nervously shuffled back and forth.

"I have tickets to the Cardinals football game. Would you like to go with me on Saturday?"

"Are you serious?" he asked, his whole face lighting up with excitement.

"I sure am," Jeremy responded. "So, will you go with me?"

"Of course, I will! I wouldn't miss it for anything in the whole world."

"How are things going for you?" Jeremy questioned.

"Okay, I guess . . . Did Mom tell you I got upset because of what happened in Sunday school today?"

"What happened?" Jeremy asked with a smile. "Did the teacher give you a ton of homework to do, take away all your baseball cards, threaten to eliminate your summer vacation?"

"No, nothing like that." Luke laughed. "But he told us a whole bunch of lies."

"Really? That's bad news," Jeremy said in a relaxed yet serious tone of voice. "What exactly did he say?"

"He told us that thousands and thousands of years ago, the people were doing really bad things all the time. They were so wicked that God planned to wipe them off the face of the earth. So He told a man named Noah to build a big boat. Our teacher said it took Noah 120 years to build the boat. That can't possibly be true. It doesn't take even a fraction of that time to build a boat."

"Well, you know they didn't have factories to build boats back then, Luke," Jeremy said with a smile.

"Yeah, but, if Noah was already an adult when God spoke to him, he couldn't possibly have lived another 120 years."

"Back then, people lived a lot longer than we do now. Methuselah, Noah's grandfather, lived to be 969 years old."

"Okay, well maybe that part is true, but he told us other lies," Luke retorted. "He said that after Noah built the boat he brought two of every kind of animal into it. That's just plain ridiculous!"

"Why do you say that, Luke?"

"First of all, the animals would never have just walked into the boat. Noah would have had to go out and round them all up. Second, the tigers, lions, bears, and wolves would have eaten Noah alive."

"Don't you think that the same God who created all the animals could have controlled them, so that they just came to Noah and he led them into the boat?"

"I guess so," Luke said quietly. "I hadn't thought about that. . . . But answer this question, where did Noah put the elephants?" Luke said with a laugh. "No boat could be big enough to house the elephants, giraffes, polar bears, hippopotamuses, and rhinoceroses."

"Maybe that's why it took Noah 120 years to build the boat!" Jeremy laughed.

"But, seriously," Luke said, trying to stop laughing, "all those animals would never have fit into the boat!"

"The boat was huge," Jeremy responded. "The Bible says that it was 450 long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. Even the giraffes and elephants had plenty of head room. And Noah took along enough food to feed all the animals and his whole family." Jeremy paused for a moment to give Luke time to ponder what he had said.

"Luke, God takes care of His children. He knew exactly how big the boat would need to be and precisely how much food Noah's family and the animals would need. He gave Noah detailed instructions for building the boat, and Noah chose to trust God and obey His instructions. So when the Flood came, Noah and his family were safe inside the boat. God even shut the door himself, and He made sure that the boat didn't leak."God takes care of his children

"So you think the story is true?" Luke asked quietly.

"Yes, I do. The Bible doesn't lie, and neither does God. . . . He cares about you, too," Jeremy said as he slipped his arm around Luke's shoulder. He knows how much you miss your dad."

"I wish he were here right now." Luke wiped his eyes.

"Let's pray together and ask God to help you during this difficult time and to watch over your dad, too."

After they prayed, Luke hugged Jeremy. "Thanks, for taking the time to talk with me, Jeremy."

"No problem," he responded. "Just remember, you're going to the big game with me on Saturday."

"Don't worry," Luke said with a smile. "I wouldn't let a pack of elephants stand in my way!"

© by Nancy A. and Howard W. Stevens