“Just one more story,” Beth pleaded.
“One more?” Dad closed the picture book he had just finished reading and laughed.
“I can’t go to sleep yet. I’m not a bit tired.” Beth hated to go to bed—especially since her older sister had moved into another bedroom, leaving Beth alone in the room. Before, Beth hadn’t really noticed the shadows and whispering noises of the night.
“Hmmm …” Dad stroked his chin. “Sometimes when I can’t sleep at night, it’s because something is bothering me. When that happens, I can always find something in the scriptures that helps me or comforts me.” He reached over to Beth’s nightstand and picked up a worn set of scriptures that used to belong to her mother. “Is anything bothering you, Beth?”
“Not exactly.” Beth didn’t want to admit that she was scared.
Dad nodded understandingly. “It’s kind of lonely in here, isn’t it? And dark.” He flipped through the pages of the New Testament. “I think we just might find something in here to help you feel better. Let’s see …”
After finding the passage he wanted, he stretched his long legs and smiled at Beth. “The scriptures say that Heavenly Father knows everything about each one of us. He even knows how many hairs we have. In Luke 12:7, Jesus tells us, ‘But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore.’”
“Wow!” Beth’s eyes opened wide.
Dad gently touched the tip of Beth’s nose. “And because He knows you so well, He loves you very, very much.” He thumbed through the pages again. “Here’s another scripture that was written a very long time ago but still sounds as if it’s talking just to you. This one is in the Old Testament, in Deuteronomy 31:6 [Deut. 31:6]. ‘Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.’”
“What does forsake mean?” Beth asked.
“It means He will never leave you alone. He will always watch out for you and take care of you and do whatever He knows is best for you. You are very important to Heavenly Father. Let’s go back to the first scripture we read in Luke 12. Let me start with verse 6 [Luke 12:6]: ‘Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?
“‘But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.’”
Beth was puzzled. “How can Heavenly Father know about and take care of all the little animals and birds and us, too?”
“I don’t know, but I know He does. I remember reading a story several years ago in a Church magazine. It was a true story about a little sparrow that flew into the Salt Lake Tabernacle while the doors were open.”*
“You mean that big building on Temple Square where they hold general conference?”
Dad nodded. “The building was empty when the bird flew in, so the workers at the Tabernacle opened all the doors, hoping the bird would fly out.”
“No. They tried calling for help, and some city workers brought some nets with very long handles so they could try to catch the bird.”
Beth remembered seeing a photograph of the inside of the Tabernacle. The ceiling looked very high. The handles on those nets must have been very, very, very long!
Dad continued. “The people ran from one end of the Tabernacle to the other trying to catch the bird, but that just frightened the poor thing. Terrified, it flew back and forth from the pipe organ to the balcony. The people who worked in the Tabernacle were getting worried. An important concert was scheduled for that evening, and they were running out of time. They had to get the bird out.”
“What did they do?” Beth whispered.
“The city workers couldn’t think of anything else, so they suggested that they use a pellet gun to shoot the bird.”
“Oh, no!” Beth was worried.
“Or they thought about putting out some poisoned food that the bird would eat.”
“Oh, Daddy, they didn’t, did they?”
“Well,” Dad continued, “the manager of the Tabernacle wouldn’t let them hurt the bird. He thought about how important this little bird was to Heavenly Father. He knew Heavenly Father would know how to take care of the bird, so he turned around and said a quiet, simple prayer. Right away the Holy Ghost helped him know what to do. He quickly gave instructions to the other workers to turn off all the lights, close the blinds, and shut all but one of the doors. Soon the only light coming into the Tabernacle was coming through that one single door. Seeing the light, the bird flew toward it and was finally able to find its freedom. Out it flew, safe at last.”
“I’m glad Heavenly Father helped the bird.”
Dad leaned over to kiss her on the cheek. “He’s always there to help you, too, Beth. All you need to do is ask. Promise me you’ll always remember that.”
“I promise.” Beth smiled and snuggled down into bed.