What Cigarettes Taught My Daughter About God

We flew past the tiny car, its driver lazily puffing on a cigarette as he crept down the road. I had places to go, and his under-the-speed-limit driving wasn’t working for me. As we passed him, she gasped in the back seat: “Mommy! That man was making a BAD CHOICE!”

I smiled. I’ve told her about good choices and bad choices since she was born, and something about what I’ve told her about smoking must have sunk in.

“Yes, baby. He was, but it’s his choice to make.”

She grew quiet in the back seat, playing with her tiny princess dolls, and I felt a nudge in my spirit. There was more I was supposed to say.

“You know what’s silly about cigarettes?”

She was only half paying attention, her little Ariel and Belle dolls dancing on her lap, but she asked, “What, Mommy? What’s silly about them?”

“Well, they’re silly because on the package, it says right there that they’ll make you sick…but people keep buying them and smoking them anyway.”

“Why’s that silly?”

“Let me put it this way. What if I told you that this gum {I held up the pack of gum I keep between our seats} would make you feel terrible. That it would give you a tummy ache and your head would hurt….but then, what if you still begged me for gum?”

She looked up and smirked. “That IS silly. That wouldn’t make any sense.”

“Exactly. And you know what else? That’s how God works with us, too. The Bible is kind of like the warning on a pack of cigarettes.”

I saw her in the mirror, watching me with furrowed eyebrows, so I continued:

“God says over and over and over in the Bible for us not to do certain things – like lying or stealing or hurting other people – because He knows how bad it’s going to make us feel. It’s not just that He wants to tell us what to do. He wants to lead us toward what’s best for us and away from things that will hurt us.”

“So…..it’s like He’s protecting us…?”

“It’s JUST like He’s protecting us, honey. That’s exactly it. See, God knows what’s good for us and what’s bad for us, and even when something looks okay, we have to trust Him if He says it’s bad. He knows what it’ll do to us, and THAT’S why He tells us not to do all of those things…and tells us TO DO other things.”

“And it’s kind of like when you and Daddy tell me something, too. Like not running into the street? Or not dancing all crazy in the kitchen with my slippery socks on?”

“That’s right, babe. Exactly. It might not make sense to you why we say not to do something, but you have to trust that we know what’s best. And God wants you to see Him the same way. We’re trying to protect you and do what’s best for you….and that’s all God is doing, too.”

The nudging in my spirit quieted, and she settled back into her seat. As I pulled into a parking space, I whispered a prayer of thanks: “There really are no ordinary moments, are there, God? Thank you for being here….”

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