"Is God an old man?" my little daughter—then four—asked on the way home from church one Sunday. I repeated the question, stalling for time. "The Bible says that God is a spirit," I told her. "He is not young or old."
He is to her.
"Is him six or twelve" she asked emphatically, as if He has to be one or the other.
At four, Anna Marie was packed with questions—and answers. The experts told me it had everything to do with her age. One minute she appeared to know nothing, only to know it all the next. Often, her questions came in waves: "How do you make Frosted Flakes?" "Does Sam (her goldfish) have ears?" "How far away is heaven?” "Is it right behind the sun?" "Why does the moon have eyes?"
There were times, at the end of a grueling day, when I complained. My computer was down, I told her. Off. Broke. No more questions, please.
But four was also the age of budding independence. No longer did she blindly accept my every word as truth. She had her own opinion of how things worked and was quick to make it known.
At the dinner table one evening, she suddenly remembered the Down’s syndrome girl we had seen at the library the day before. "Why that little girl not look like me?" she asked, puzzled, her round face appearing more precious—more perfect—than ever as I recalled images of the Down's syndrome child wearing a tight red shirt and short blue pants, drool spilling from her bottom lip.
"That little girl was born that way," I said. "Just because people look different doesn't make them—"
She interrupted. "Will her always look like that, Mommy?"
"Yes, baby. She will."
My answer greatly disturbed her. She finished her meal with a despondent face.
I sat quietly, thinking about this universal need for answers. From childhood, to adolescence, through the turbulent teens and into adulthood, our paths are dotted with questions. We are compelled to seek answers.
Often I listen as friends vow to carry a list of questions with them all the way to heaven's gate: Why did my mother die so young? Why did my children abandon me? Why did my husband divorce me? Why was my child born with mental challenges?
Having the answers to such questions seems to usher them onward, toward the day they can finally ask why. "God, WHY?” My philosophy has always been that some questions simply have no earthly answers. At least none that satisfy.
Later that evening, after my daughter crawled into bed, I knelt down beside her and we prayed our goodnight prayers. After she named all of the people in her circle of family and friends, she then prayed for the little girl at the library, her tone becoming suddenly urgent.
As I tucked her under the covers, she touched my face. "Mommy, that little girl …” She searched for the right words.
I nodded. Yes, I knew the one.
Propping herself up on one elbow, she said, “Her won't always look like that, Mommy." This she said firmly, as if there was no room for a single doubt.
I kissed her forehead, letting my lips linger.
"Not in heaven, Mommy. Her won’t look like that in heaven," she said, her voice certain, solid as steel.
It was no longer a question. My inquisitive four-year old had discovered the answer for herself, without any prompting from me.
“There shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)
Adapted from the book, Whispers From Heaven, by Dayle Shockley. All rights reserved.