The one thing Donny’s father said about God opened up a spiritual pathway for an acquaintance of mine, now nearly 80 years old . . . .

I became aware of God first when I was five years old. I was sick with pneumonia. The doctor said to my father, “I hope you have other children at home because I don’t think Donny is going to survive.” My father came into the hospital room where I was in an oxygen tent. He said, “Son, you are very ill. I want to tell you about God. God is the one who made everything. You can’t see him but he can see you. He hears what you ask of him. That is called prayer. Pray and ask God to make you well.”

There I was breathing the enriched oxygen and hearing my father tell me about this great, wonderful one. I did pray. I said, “God, make me well.” And he did.

Donny dares ask God a hard question

When I was 9, friends of my family would ask me how old I was and, “What are you going to be when you grow up?” When I told them I didn’t know, they would say, “You are 9 years old. You’ve got to decide.” One Sunday afternoon, some guests came to visit and again asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I thought to myself, “I’m tired of this! I don’t know, and I want to be able to tell them.” After the people left, my mother said, “Climb the wooden hill.” (That’s Canadian for ‘go upstairs to bed’.)

Before I got into bed I sat on the edge of the bed, and thought, “I asked God to make me well when I was 5 and I was sick. I have no idea what I want to be. Why don’t I ask God?” So I prayed. This was only the second time I remember praying, other than “Now I lay me down to sleep.”  I said, “God, remember me? My name is Donny. When I was sick you made me well. Now will you help me know what I should be when I grow up?” Although I didn’t get an answer right then, I remember feeling peace and I had a sense that God heard me.

When Don was 17, he heard a man describing his particular job, and something excited him. Don said that he knew he “was listening to God’s answer to my question, What should I be when I grow up?” Don had a long and satisfying career.

From Don’s perspective, one conversation saved his life. That may be hard for many adults to believe, but in child-centered spirituality, we step back from our own views and give children the right to theirs.