Life Lessons with Middle

Sometimes I think I have this idea in my head about what time with God would look like. Time where he teaches me, calms me, reminds me of his power. Time to talk with him and time to listen.

Ideally, this time would be when I am alone, the space around me is quiet and I can concentrate. I would also have have a book of inspiration, the Bible, and my journal.

Lately, when I think about my conversations and times of learning from God, none of these things are present. I'm not even alone.

What I have learned in the last two weeks is that if we are paying attention, we will notice that most of the time, these ideals won't be our reality. We just need to be present with our minds open, our hearts attune, and our ears listening, with our eyes keeping watch. God is ever present and always speaking.

Since Big has been in school, I have had lots of time with middle in the car. Without Big to share the conversation with, middle has my undivided attention to ask all the questions rolling around in his brain. And as all four year olds do, the questions are never ending and always completely random to the adult ear.

In the last two weeks middle has developed a thirst for theology and all questions relating to God and his power. Cement trucks, car engines, stores, money, food, poor people, superhero's, his questions all start somewhere in here and end up in the Bible. Here is what we have been discussing;

Why is a cement truck always moving?
What does a solid mean?
What does a liquid mean?
How does a car get liquid gas and turn it into a vapor that comes out the back?
If its like magic than it is more powerful than God?
Why didn't the disciples just go to the store when they were hungry?
If we are like the disciples and we go to the store, why didn't they? And if God can make a lot of food with a miracle why doesn't he just always do that?
When that guy in the Bible went up to heaven in the Chariot, God wasn't with him, and you said God is always with us. We should draw a picture of God in our Bible so we know he is always there.
Are engines hot?
Why don't we pour water into our cars to cool them off?
If we are going down hill, why aren't we moving? (while we are stopped at the light)
What moves the car, the wheel, the pedal or the tires?
Can clouds move through anything?
If things go through clouds than why didn't Jesus fall through the clouds when he went up into heaven?
Why can't we reach the end of the rainbow?
If I was bigger than Noah would I be older than him?

(And this is just a small taste of what I get. I didn't include my answers because frankly that would take way too much time. My husband and I have the unfortunate ability to answer our children with very adult answers which just brings on more questions. But we love their curiosity and don't ever want it to go away.)

The thing about all these questions is that it has revealed to me things I knew but didn't realize I really knew. Ever do that? Not ponder how liquid becomes a gas, but then when questioned about, you realize you know how its done? This has been what it's like with middle. His questions range from the deep to the wide, and I am surprised by my limited knowledge that I don't ever explore.

But there is also the faith issue. The theology, the understanding, the belief in something that I go weeks, or months, or years without pondering, and then when questioned, I have to answer. I have to think about what is it that I believe. If I don't have an answer, it challenges me to think about it, to truly develop an opinion about what I am about to say.

What is my belief about people being inherently good or evil?
Do I describe people as good or bad, or just people who make good or bad choices?
How does God make grass grow?
Why if God can feed the 5,000 with a miracle can't he feed the homeless person?
Why is it so hard to make good choices?
Why doesn't Jesus fall through the clouds when he flies up to heaven?
If God is always present, why isn't he painted in all the pictures of the Bible?
How can God be in my heart and up in the sky? How can he be in all places at one time?
Do I really believe that God is all powerful?
If God is really bigger than the boogy man then why do I get scared?
Why did Jesus have to die on the cross?
What kind of bodies will we get in heaven? Is it our baby bodies or our old bodies?

You know what's hard about having and not having answers to these questions? (and yes these are all questions that I received from my son these past two weeks in the car, or his questions have lead to me to ask the questions above myself.)

The answer to these questions don't just shape my life, my faith, my journey, they are also shaping the highly influential lives of my kids. My answers shape their understanding of God and who he is, who they are, and what life is about and how they exist in it. That task feels overwhelming and exciting.

The exciting part is watching how God uses my son to help teach me, challenge me, and encourage me in my faith, all the while to also shape his. If there are good guys and bad guys and life is that black and white, than which one am I? Can I switch teams, or am I always good or bad? (PLEASE don't let that be true, because I'm pretty sure I would exist on the bad guy team. It's just in my nature.)

So here I am everyday in the car, waiting for my time with the Lord. Waiting for him to teach me, challenge me and make me think about and own my faith. Two days ago, we picked Big up from school and had to head down to the energy assistance office in south Mpls. After that we headed to uptown because we needed some items from the Co-op. On our way out of the store, there was a homeless man standing on the corner with his cardboard sign. Middle begged me to give him a dollar so he could give it to him. Middle rolled down his window and gave the man two dollars and introduced himself. That's when we met Kurt.

Driving away, I suggested that we pray for Kurt. In our prayer we discussed that we didn't know Kurt situation and we hoped that someone who had more could come and help him. We prayed that through all the circumstances in Kurt's life, he would see God's hand guiding him and that he would never feel alone. We prayed that we would see Kurt again in Heaven. When the prayer was over, middle suggested that we should have invited Kurt home with us because he had more money in bank and he wanted to give it to Kurt to help him. I told middle it was a really great idea, but that it wasn't safe to invite people into our homes that we don't know.

Middle's response?

"Mom, if we invited home with us, we could get to know him and then he would be our friend. If we get to know him, he won't be a stranger anymore."

Mmmm....and there was the truth.

If we would only get to know him. Her. Them. Whoever it is that we keep at a distance.

After that, middle asked that when we don't have anymore money, could we stand on the corner and draw a cardboard sign? He was excited to work on his letters.

Hmmmm... Not sure how dad or papa will feel about that. Clearly we still have some work to do. I did mention to middle that we were blessed to have friends and family who help us when we are struggling. Which then threw us into another conversation about Kurt and how alone he was. We prayed again. Middle couldn't give up on the idea of giving Kurt more money, but then wisely noted, "But mom, if we give Kurt all our money we won't have any. We still need money too right mom? To buy toys?"

Close. Or food. We would use it on food.

I was touched by son's heart. A heart of compassion. A heart free of judgement. A heart willing to see what God would and could do if people stopped to get to know one another.

I love my afternoons with my son and with my creator God who can bring his truth into all avenues of my life, even when I sleep through our appointed time.

Don't get me wrong, I think appointed times are critical, crucial, effective, helpful, and full of blessings and wisdom. However, life happens sometimes and we can't ever assume that just because we didn't show up, God won't. He'll show up whenever he wants, and mostly when he knows we need it.