Sometimes the questions of little ones are tiring. Hey Papa, why is the sky blue? Hey Papa, why do fire ants bite you? Hey Papa, why are some kids born boys and some are born girls?
I don’t go into great detail on all of them. Oft times it is merely the child’s way of making sure I am engaged with them still. But sometimes the questions can take you back, make you think about how carefully you would like to respond to things.
That intentionality in response to a question is when we are on our best game. For me, it is when my mind is signaled that this question has to do with how certain things are seen in the future. They are life shaper questions… they involve God and how he impacts the world.
During those times, I don’t just want to answer the question but I also want to accurately represent God’s character in the context of the question.
Papa, why does that man have a brown face? Four year olds aren’t very racist. That is an attitude that is taught, it isn’t naturally occurring. So, one thing important to me in a setting like that is not to convey racist overtones. Explaining about levels of melanin, the main determinant of skin pigment in darker skinned individuals is really probably a bit deeper than he was really trying to ask. So, how do I answer the question accurately, and also represent the nature and character of God while doing so?
I decided to talk about flowers, bugs and rocks. Have you ever noticed that when God made things, he made lots of different kinds of the same thing? Like how many colors of flowers can you think of? They are all flowers, but different in size and shape. The same is true of bugs. Why is one bug born a fly, the next one a spider, and then a lady bug? How many colors are there in bugs? Rocks are the same way, God made them in all kinds of colors so that when we look at them we can really like the differences. The same is true of people, lots of differences in the same people. Some are lady people, some are men people. Some people are tall, others are short, some are skinny while others are heavy. Some have brown hair and others have red hair… God likes and knew that we would like lots of differences in things that are the same. Does that make sense?
He got a bit of a faraway look in his eyes, I could see the wheels turning, sorting the information, cataloging the value of both similarity and difference, seeing that God had a reason for difference and variety, knowing it was good and right. I was pretty pleased with myself as he finally formed his answer.
I think I would rather be a lady bug than a spider.
Sometimes talking to little children is frustrating. I think he may have a limited appreciation for the teleological argument for the existence of God, based on the complexity of design.