This is the question that my 4-year-old asked on our way home from work today.
There’s nothing like that kind of question to make one realize that they don’t really know the answer.
The question that followed was of equal significance, “Does God love us?”
I have thought many times that I know who God is. Turns out I’m still learning and will hopefully continue discovering for eternity. The answer to the second question is one that I know for certain. Even when chaos abounds and sorrow seems to triumph, “Yes! God loves us!”
Several hours later, I followed the boys upstairs to put them to bed and the conversation picked right back up. “Will there be animals in heaven?” “Are there rules in heaven?” “Is everything gold in heaven?” “Can we buy a Nintendo DS in heaven?” “Do we exercise in heaven?” “Is Jesus in heaven?” “Will I be my same age in heaven?” “What if someone really old dies? How old is too old to be in heaven?”
As the questions came at me, I had to smile. In part because I didn’t know the answers to all of their questions and partly because I love that they are thinking about these things.
Eventually the more difficult questions came. Those that I too wrestle with in the dark when my thoughts are my only companion.
“Mommy, what about your friend who was real sick and died.” said my 4-year-old. “Is she still sick in heaven?”
“No Darling, she isn’t. Elliot is perfectly healed and complete now.” I responded.
“How do you know?” asked my 6-year-old.
(Gulp) Well…I know because…well…because…I believe.
“Mommy. I know a baby in heaven.” said my 4-year-old.
“Which baby do you know in heaven?” I asked.
“Baby Hallie, from Miss Katie.” he responded.
It took me a moment to regain my composure. Katie and I were just talking about Hallie earlier today and what those days were like for her in the midst of uncertainty. It was a miracle that Hallie was born and the fact that she lived several days after was a gift.
“Will there be babies in heaven?” he then asked.
“Yes. I think there will be babies in heaven.” I said.
My 6-year-old chimed in, “If you die, who will be our mommy?”
Thankfully my 4-year-old was too curious to wait for my answer and launched into a new set of “Will ________ be in heaven?”
I continued answering as best I could until finally my 4-year-old said, “Can you sing now? I’m ready to go to sleep.”
I walked away feeling ill-equipped to have these conversations. If anything I caused more questions than I had answers.
I have experienced various seasons in my faith. One thing has held true. If ever there was separation, I was the instigator. If ever there was doubt, I was the first to question. Even now when trying to grasp an understanding of something so big and so far from my ability to comprehend, I find myself thinking, “Is what I believe really true?” If I think too hard or analyze too much, it does seem like the fairytale to rival all fairy-tales. Thankfully I am always snapped back into a realm compatible with my understanding. Jesus.
He was a man. Born a baby. He was grace, truth and incomprehensible love, in the flesh. He chose me. How can I not believe? When it all seems too farfetched and I begin to doubt, I turn my eyes back to Jesus. The tangible God. Is that wrong to say?
Whether one believes in Christ or not, history tells the story of Jesus. So here I sit. In a place where Jesus and faith collide and merge into one big question that my inquisitive little boys want to uncover and dissect. I will answer them the best I can and I will always point them back to Jesus.
I don’t think that God is one to be understood. Why would I want a God who is intelligible by the finite brain? I enjoy the mystery always unfolding. The twists and turns are what make this life interesting. I love viewing life and God through the eyes of a child who has yet to be influenced by the unsolicited feedback of inconsequential onlookers. Not only does it seem clearer, but the answers are not stressful. There is no argument or hostility. When they had talked enough, my little one spoke up and said he was ready to go to sleep.
I want to be more like that.
Dare I ask what your thoughts are on this? Should I open myself up to the obvious ridicule of possible responses? I think yes. Why not?