[Originally written for Wednesday, February 09, 2005]
Art Linkletter probably said it best: “Kids say the darndest things!”
As the father of two daughters, there were times when I found myself challenged more by the questions of my beauties than by the propositions professorially propounded by erudite multi-degreed Doctors of Letters.
I can’t swear to it, but I believe my oldest daughter, Laura, began her questioning about the time when she was rudely awakened to the horrifying truth that her daddy could not fix everything! Laura, my wife, and I were in the master bedroom one day when Laura was about eighteen months old. My wife was grumbling about a run in her stocking when Laura boldly announced, “Daddy fix it!” I stood there as though nailed to the floor, sheepishly realizing the enormity of the moment: My daughter was receiving her first lesson in “The Fallibility of Parents.” Every parent faces this moment, and, to say the least, it is agonizing. I noticed after this that my daughter would temper her confidence in my abilities by saying, “Daddy fix it! Right?” Thus the questioning began.
Then there was the time I was approached by my little idolizer, whereupon she presented me with a balloon that did not even have the decency to just lose air. Instead, it had burst into many pieces. She said nothing, but as she offered the pieces to me her facial expression said, “I’ll give you another chance. Can you fix this?” I could see I was falling from my lofty perch in her eyes. To say, “I can’t fix mommy’s stocking, or your pretty balloon,” while looking into those trusting, believing eyes was devastating.
While we were stationed in Guam in the mid ‘80s, my wife told me of an incident with our youngest, Jenny. I was deployed on a ship for months at a time so was not there to enjoy this special moment. Jenny was a precocious five year old who loved geckos, lizards, frogs, and hermit crabs, all of which were in abundance in Guam. She came running into the house with a look of such urgency that my wife immediately gave Jenny her full attention. “Mommy,” Jenny asked, “Do frogs yawn?” To her credit, my wife maintained her composure long enough to answer, “Sure they do,” not knowing whether they do or not. Jenny, thus satisfied with the answer, raced back outside with this newly acquired knowledge. My wife, on the other hand, laughed until tears rolled down her cheeks. Honestly, friends, have you ever seen a frog yawn?
Then there came the day when my wife violated the cardinal rule, “What to do when your child asks tough questions.” One thing for certain is you do not pass the buck. Now, here’s the scene: my wife is sitting at her desk working on the family budget while Jenny is contentedly playing with her dolls on the couch. Ah! But who can know what debilitating questions lurk in the mind of a five year old? Jenny’s small voice pierced this pastoral setting. “Mommy, if God made everything, then who made God?” Near panic best describes my wife’s broken reverie. She could have correctly replied, “No one made God, Jenny. He’s always been here.” Of course, had she given this answer she would have had to field a series of questions on this, like, “Where did God come from?” and “Does God have a mom and dad?” To have bravely answered these questions in a mature manner would have been the right and responsible thing to do. Did my wife do this? No. She panicked. She committed the unpardonable. She violated the cardinal rule. She opted to pass the buck. She said, “Ask your father.”
Now, you would think that this would be a simple enough matter for an ordained minister with a Master of Divinity degree, a Doctorate in Counseling (More than twenty years of schooling – and I’m not done!) a student of the Bible spending countless hours over jots and tittles, the truth is, a question like this still remains a mystery to even the greatest of scholars and deepest of thinkers.
When it is all said and done, tough questions about God and faith often leave us stupefied. Sure, I can present solid biblical answers with deep theologically deduced answers to the tough questions. But in the final analysis, my faith is in God and what he has chosen to reveal about himself, particularly through the Scriptures.
Then some day, I’ll get to ask God the really tough question: “Do frogs really yawn?”