Most questions never

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 4, 2001

come with easy answers



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The questions never come with a warning.

They come, most often, at bedtime, at the end of an exhausting day, when you’ve bathed and brushed; read three storybooks; said prayers; kissed faces and panda bears good night; fetched the last glass of water; and tucked little feet in tight.

"Mommy, what does God look like?"

As the then 3-and-a-half-year-old’s question broke the stillness, I sat silent, caught off-guard by the question and searching for the right answer to what was surely one of those pivotal parenting moments.

"Well, uh …" I said, stalling. "What do you think He looks like?"

"I always thought he looked like space – you know, all of outer space," the sensible 7-year-old said. "Isn’t that right? Isn’t God all of space?"

"You could say that," I answered thoughtfully.

"Well, how big is God, then?" the preschooler asked as he sat up in bed and stretched his arms open. "Is He this big, or bigger?"

Much, much bigger of course, I answered. "As big as outer space."

"Oh," he said, obviously puzzled. "But what about the man at church … the one who talks and does stuff. Is he God?"

Not exactly, I said smiling. "You could sort of say he works for God."

"You mean God’s his boss?"

"God’s the boss of everything," the big brother answered with a frustrated tone. "Don’t you know anything? He’s the boss of the whole universe …"

And, cupping his hand over his mouth, he looked at me and shook his head. "He just doesn’t know anything, does he? He’s not even ready for first grade. I mean, he doesn’t even know that God is the boss of everything."

As the much wiser older brother flopped back onto his bed, I waited for the silence to be broken again.

"But, Mommy, what does God look like?" came the question, again.

Does He look like the stars or outer space? Or the man at church?

What about the homeless man we saw on the street one day? Or the new baby cousin we have?

Does He look like the sun, or the moon, or even the rain clouds? Does He look like me? Or you? Does he drive a fire truck?

All those questions … all too ponderable for young minds and even older ones.

And, just as the questions never come with a warning, they never come with an easy answer.

How do you open a young, literal mind so it can grasp the intangibles, from faith to patriotism to love to, hopefully one day, leadership?

For that matter, how do you open adult minds to those principles, when so many minds are closed to new ideas, to vision, to faith?

I don’t know the answers …to the pivotal parenting questions or to those defining societal questions.

We settled that night on the fact that God must look like the sun and the sky; that he absolutely must drive a fire truck and that he really is bigger than the whole universe. And, as I crawled into bed that night, I said a quiet prayer of thanks that someone had asked …

Stacy Graning is publisher of The Messenger. She can be reached at 670-6308 or via e-mail,


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