By Linda Porter Carlyle
Joseph Anderson Donetti sat down on the porch and chuckled to himself. G.M. had really outdone herself this time! He couldn’t believe the school assignment she had given him. (G.M. is Joseph’s Grandma Maddie, who is his homeschool teacher.)
Joseph zipped his jacket up a little higher. The February sunshine was bright, but the chill in the air reminded him it was definitely still winter. He leaned back against the wall of the house, and Grace rolled over against him, sticking her front foot high in the air, inviting him to scratch her belly.
Grace groaned happily.
“Make a list of ten ways you and Grace are alike.” That was G.M.’s assignment. Joseph picked up his clipboard. He rested it against his knees and pulled his pencil out of his jacket pocket. OK. Let’s see. How are Grace and I alike? Hair! “We both have hair,” he wrote carefully. He wasn’t exactly sure where this assignment was going. Maybe it was something scientific. Or maybe G.M. was only planning to grade him on his handwriting.
Grace thumped her tail against the porch, a strong suggestion that she could use more scratching.
Joseph absentmindedly patted her.
Bellies. “We both have stomachs, eat food, and drink water,” Joseph wrote. Hey, this was easy!
Feet. “We both have feet and can walk and run,” he wrote.
He looked at Grace. Eyes, nose, ears. “We both have eyes and a nose and ears. We both can see, smell, and hear,” Joseph put down.
The back door banged. G.M. sank down into the big white wicker chair. “How’s it going?” she asked. “What a beautiful day!”
“Great!” Joseph answered. “Grace and I are a lot alike. Listen to my list!”
“Hmmm,” G.M. said thoughtfully when he finished. “It certainly sounds like Grace was made in your image.”
Joseph looked at her, puzzled. “What do you mean?” he asked.
“You know,” G.M. answered. “You and Grace are so similar. She must have been made in your image—like you were made in God’s. Like your memory verse says, ‘God created man in His image.’ ”
“No,” Joseph said slowly. “That’s not right. Grace is not like me. Not that way.”
G.M. was quiet.
Grace rolled over, put her head on her paws, gave a sigh, and shut her eyes.
“That text must mean something different than just having the same kind of body parts,” Joseph decided. “What does it mean?”
“Good question,” G.M. murmured.
“You’re not going to help me, are you?” Joseph asked.
G.M. smiled at him sweetly.
Joseph stared across the yard. A robin hopped, stopped, and hopped across the damp grass. She cocked her head to listen for earthworms tunneling along underground. A fat cat strolled across the street, safe since Grace was gently snoring.
“OK,” Joseph said. He rearranged his legs and sat up straighter. “The text must mean that we are like God in some other way.” He paused. “It’s got to be some inside way! Not how we look on the outside!”
G.M. grinned. “Now
“Thinking!” Joseph exclaimed. “People can think about ideas and plan things. Like God does! Grace can think about things but not big things like taking a trip to China, or learning how to play the piano, or something. So that’s one way we are created in God’s image!”
Joseph stopped to think some more. A stellar jay in one tree screeched to his companion in another. “I remember once you told me that we are like God when we create things, like painting and drawing and music and stuff. Because God loves to create, and He made us like Himself in that way!” he said.
“Creating makes me feel good inside,” G.M. said. “It makes me feel satisfied and happy when I paint. I think that’s just a tiny bit like how God felt at the end of each day of Creation when He said everything He made that day was good.”
“And loving!” Joseph interrupted. “God made us so we could love people like He does. And help them. Pastor Chuck told us that the only hands God has on earth to help people are our hands.”
“Here’s another way to think about that text,” G.M. said. “When you look in a mirror, you see your image. I think when Christians look at each other, we should see a little bit of God—a little bit of His image.”
“Do you see God’s image when you look at me?” Joseph asked anxiously.
G.M. studied him carefully. There were traces of peanut butter and jelly on his chin. One shoelace was untied. And he had forgotten to comb his hair that morning. G.M.’s eyes smiled. “I do,” she said softly. “I certainly do!”