"Tell me about God."
Nick's grandpa reeled in his line and cast again before he looked at the boy. "I can't," he said.
Carter felt his heart sink. It had all been a lie. Something made up, just like he'd thought at first. He looked away to hide his disappointment.
Carter looked back at the old man.
"Son, I can't tell you about God anymore than I can tell you about this lake. Now, I know this lake—probably better than anybody alive. I've fished here well over fifty years. I can tell you what the lake looks like and where it is on a map and what kind of fish it has in it. I know the best fishing holes and the best places to camp or eat or rent a boat. And I can tell you a bunch of silly stories about my experiences out here, about the most beautiful sunset I've ever seen, and how fishing here has made me a better man. But there are more things that I don't know about the lake than what I do—things that scientists might know, or geologists might know, or maybe even better fishermen might know—If there are any. My understanding is limited, incomplete. I can tell you what I know about God, too, but there's so much more to God than what I know. You need to find out for yourself."
"Will you tell me what you know, Mr. Fowler?" Carter asked.
"I will if you'll call me Grandpa."
Carter blinked back tears that he didn't understand. "Deal," he whispered.
"God is simple," Grandpa smiled. "Everyone tries to make Him hard, but He's not. He's complex, but He's not hard. He is love. He is truth. He is justice. He is perfection. He created everything, Son, from the minnow on my hook to the farthest point in the universe to you." He looked at Carter and raised a shaky, spotted hand to touch the boy's chest. "And He loves you so much that He would do anything to make you understand that, Carter. Anything. Seems impossible; kind of like you trying to make a fish understand that you love it." Grandpa chuckled at the thought of Carter loving a fish.
Carter watched as Nick started toward them from the small bait store with three bottles of soda and a container of minnows. Nick saw him looking his direction and raised his hand. Carter returned the greeting.
"He makes us know it, though," Grandpa continued. "That's love, Carter. When you love somebody so much that you do whatever you have to do to make them feel it and understand it. He loves you enough that He sent Jesus to live a perfect life and then die to take the punishment for your imperfection. He had the power to bring His precious Son back to life, and He has the power to help you understand. That's love, Carter. And it's so simple to be a part of it. All you have to do is accept it—accept Jesus."
"If He loves us so much why doesn't he just let us go to heaven anyway? Why isn't that His gift?"
Grandpa smiled. "Wouldn't that be easy? Just depend on Him for everything, be responsible for nothing." The old man rubbed the side of his face and shook his head. "I hear that all the time—how if God was really fair he'd just open the doors to anybody good. And there's the problem, my boy—the word fair means even for both parties. Even between God and us. And God is perfect, remember? So we would have to perfect for God to be fair. We would have to give equally to His giving, be equal to what He is. Thank God He's not fair. Thank God He loves us too much to expect from us what we cannot give. All He expects is for us to accept a simple gift: the gift of His Son. And He even gives us the faith to do that."
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