I have a four-year-old son, and he has a brilliant brain filled with questions and curiosities, all of which remind me of the kind I carried in my childhood.
He tells me he wants to be a kid astronaut. He tells me he doesn’t want to grow up and doesn’t want to be a human. He just wants to be young forever, so he can go to outer space and see all the wild planets spinning around out there.
Sometimes he asks me which planets are closest to the sun. He asks me where comets come from and why the moon follows us in car rides on the way home.
But, then, he asks questions like the one about the grandfather we lost to COVID — questions like, “When is Pop coming back?” and “When will we get to see him again?” Then come questions about suffering and why everyone in the world is sick right now, and “Where is God, and why can’t I see Him? Is God ticking the clocks? Is God real if I can’t see Him?”
Recently, my son huddled up close to me. “Why can’t I see God?” he asked. I wanted to avoid the question. I wanted to change the subject, say a prayer, and give a platitude. It’s been a hard two years and answering heavy questions doesn’t come easy anymore. But I know my son’s curiosity comes from a place of true hunger. He is not a baby asking for a bottle; he is a self-aware human being with feelings and fears, emotions and exhaustive wonderings. I cannot simply pat him on the back and pray this away.
“God,” I said, “is kind of like the wind. We might not be able to see Him, but we can see that He is here.”
I asked him about his heart in his chest. “Do you know that thumping sound?”
“What’s making that sound?”
“My heart,” he said, smiling away.
“Can you see your heart?”
“But you know it’s there, right?”
Looking him deep in the eye, I tell him, “God is like the heart in your chest — even though you can’t see Him, you can hear Him, feel Him, and sense Him.”
And that is the truth. God is always showing us who He is, what He does, and where He is through the wind, the trees, and kaleidoscopic sunsets. When we look at these things, knowing God made them, we can see and trust that He is here and that He loves us. His presence is a promise.
That moment with my son didn’t end with fireworks and confetti. He still has a long list of lingering questions, and quite frankly, so do I. I want to know about the galaxies out there. I want to know about the precise moment our world crumbled into its fallen state. I want to know about time and if eternity ticks with or without it. These are questions that I will spend my life carrying and cradling. I will stumble upon the answers to some of them, but most of them — along with the others I’ve yet to conjure — will stay with me in life and through my death.
God has made much known, and yet He makes much to remain unknown. Mystery is the chasm that keeps God on the throne and us in awe of Him. We are sons and daughters of the King — even friends, yes, but He is still King, still holy and wholly set apart.
While there is much we don’t and won’t ever know, this one thing will never be in question: the fact that God loves us and that God is with us. He is with us in the way He can be seen through His invisible qualities.
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
Romans 1:20 (NIV)
And the wonders of this kind of love — this King’s love — are not just visible; they are also incarnate. He is not only to be witnessed but to be trusted as with us.
Indeed, it’s a truth we feel more viscerally in the dead of winter, in the darkest days of the year when the season reminds us that love came swaddled in lowly layers. Even now, while we are well beyond winter, we are not beyond Advent — the truth that Christ, God in flesh, has come, is coming (meaning, is daily with us), and will come again.
Every sunset bears witness to God but also boasts that God is with us. The wind bears witness to God but also boasts that God is with us. Love on display — especially that which is otherworldly — bears witness to God but also boasts that God is with us.
He will never just be a God to worship; He’s a God who is with us — closer than the skin on our bones, closer than the heart in our chest.
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