This week my son has been teaching me about the importance of being transparent about our questions about God and life.
I mentioned he was scared. He still is. The source of his fear, a giant foot on a rampage belonging to nobody but itself, has now morphed into Chuckie. (Remember the movies back in the 80’s? He’s the doll who comes back to life and starts killing people.) Apparently a fourth grader on the playground at summer camp has been regaling his younger listeners with horrifying stories of Chuckie; and honestly, Chuckie still scares me. Seriously. He’s right up there with Jack Nicholson in “The Shining.” “Never again,” I’ve said with respect to all horror flicks.
But my son’s transparency this week has also manifested itself in really profound questions and assumptions about God: they’re the kind we so rarely see voiced among adults, but which seem to come more easily for children (or at least my own). (I really wonder whether Schleiermacher is right—whether a “God consciousness” is a more common occurrence among children.)
Cam had begun to wonder aloud the other night whether Chuckie was made by the devil. I said maybe. Maybe not. Human beings had made the movie, but it was possible, I guessed, that the devil inspired them to do this. But this wasn’t really our concern, and didn’t need to cause us more than one thought, because in the end God is so much bigger than the devil and so much more powerful and perfectly good, that we can set our eyes on God and make God our focus. And then, we can even laugh at the devil, I said, because we know who wins in the end.
“God!,” Cam exclaimed triumphantly, with a smile registering reassurance.
I am struck by how quickly as adults we’ve come to stuff our questions about God and life. Are we afraid to ask them because we’ll appear childish? Or have we stopped believing in answers to live for—answers that really will give us courage to live life with faith, hope and love? Where do we suddenly convince ourselves that as grown-ups we have all the answers? Where do we lose our wonder? Is our wonder somewhere amongst our wounds? Have we been hurt too much to dare show our vulnerability in our questions? Or has the sheer act of survival in this world—bringing home the bacon, so to speak—convinced us that such questions are not “pragmatic” enough or too much of a distraction from our materialistic existence?
“By Christ’s wounds we are healed,” Scripture tells me.
In the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Christians are “eternal beginners,” theologian Jurgen Moltmann proclaims.
“Get to know and love your inner child,” the therapist says.
Being honest and transparent about our questions for God and about life is, I suspect, part of what it means to be “born again.” In this sense, I hope I don’t stop being born again. Ever.
Becoming as children…this, I think, is what we do as we approach our own physical deaths and our bodies deteriorate. We become dependent just as we once were. Technically we’ve never stopped being that way, though we have convinced ourselves somewhere between birth and death that we are entirely “grown-up.”
But if “grown-up” means having all the answers, living without wonder and never having to ask for God’s help, then I’ll take so-called childishness any day.
But what do you think about the queries thrown out above? Leave your thoughts below and I’ll republish them.