Monday, January 10, 2011

Israel: Wrestles with God

Israel asked out of the blue today if we know anyone who died while we were alive. I told him I didn't think he knew anyone like that, but he kept pressing, so I told him his Grandma's daddy died not long ago. He then had a string of questions that lasted for a good 5 minutes. I can't remember them all, but this is the gist of it.
"Well, why did he die?"
"Everyone dies sometime."
"But why does everyone die?"
"Because this world is not perfect, so we don't live here forever."
"So sometimes, if people eat food that is yucky, they die?"
"Well, I guess so, but everyone dies. People who eat yucky food die and people who don't eat yucky food die, too. Everyone dies."
"But why?"
"Because our bodies aren't perfect. They wear out and we die." (I realize this overlooks death by other means, but I was trying to be concise.)
"Why do they wear out?"
"Well, these bodies don't last forever. But when we die, Jesus gives us new bodies that last forever."
[long pause] "When I get a new body, can it talk?"
"Yes, it can talk." (I think it's funny that talking in his new body was his first concern.)
"But why will I get a new body?"
"Because this one will wear out. But your new one won't wear out and it won't get sick or be sad."
"Oh. Well, I got sick one time and I puked. But I didn't die."
"Well, you don't usually die from just puking."
"But if you puke a lot and a lot and a lot, then you die?"
"Well, maybe...but probably not."

The conversation ended strangely when we arrived at the grocery store. But Israel picked it up in the evening when Pat asked him if he wanted to pray before going to sleep. Israel said he wanted to pray for the man that died, that he would get a new body.
"Um, Jesus, I pray for the man that died and that you would give him a new body."
Pat said, "Well, usually when people die, that's it. They're either with Jesus if they want to be with Jesus or they're not with Jesus if they don't want to be with Jesus."
Pat then asked Israel if he wanted to spend time listening to Jesus. (Pat did this with the elementary school students at church this week and was somewhat surprised to find that, when they spent 30 seconds of silence listening for Jesus, about 1/3 came back and told him specific things they had heard.) Israel agreed. But I guess he didn't hear anything. I accidentally interrupted the time and Israel had more questions.
"Mom, can you make Jesus talk?"
"No. I can't make Jesus talk. I can ask Jesus to talk, but I can't tell him what to do. I'm not His boss; he's my boss."
"But Daddy is his boss."
[snicker] "No, Daddy's not his boss, either. No one can make Jesus talk, but if you listen really well, sometimes you can hear Him talk. He sounds like a voice in your head and you know it's Him because of how He loves you when He talks to you."
"But why won't he talk?"
"I don't know. You'll just have to keep listening. Listen really well and you might hear Him."
"When we get our new bodies, then we will be able to hear Him?"
"Yes, that's when we will hear Him the best."

I can tell my child the right answers about God, but I can't make good on God's promises. Only God can do that. It's hard when your three year old asks about death and not hearing God. I can't show him anyone's new body. I can't make God talk to him. I can only give the correct response. Many times, that correct response is, "I don't know," and Israel nearly always replies, "But, Mom, just tell me," as though I'm holding out on him. But it's not that easy. While its tough to watch a three year old already wrestling with questions that don't have easy answers, we chose the name "wrestles with God" for a reason. All we can do is point him to the One who asks us to wrestle it out with Him.


Annie said...

Beautiful. Difficult, but beautiful.

keep growing said...

Further conversation tonight included Israel saying, "Mom? Can we talk to Jesus and see if he will talk to us? ...Jesus? Um, will you talk to us, pease?" [long silence.] "Sometimes we can hear Jesus and sometimes we can't. ...Jesus always listens to us, but we can't always hear him."