Does God Live Under Grass and Dirt?
I am the grandmother of a three-year-old. This summer I’ve had the joy of spending a lot of time with him. I have had to adjust to his unique logic on a variety of subjects, including God.
“Does God live under the grass and dirt?” I knew what prompted this off-the-wall question. His grandma, my mom, died a year ago, and the questions are just coming up now. I have heard a child express confusion about a loved one being in the grave but also in heaven, but have never heard one trying to resolve this conundrum by placing God’s home underground. Oh, the beauty of a three-year old’s logic. We had a good conversation about this, about God living everywhere, but especially in His heaven where His throne is; about the part of Grandma that had grown old and broken, her body, that was buried and would be fixed some day; about the part of her that could never be broken, her soul, the part that loved God, and that had gone to Heaven to be with Him until someday when her new body and her soul will be put together again.
The Importance of Questions
Each question my grandson asks as we are going about our ordinary activities gives me an opportunity to express to him the wonders of our mighty God. Whether or not the question is about God, I try to bring God into the answer. Many of his questions are about nature. Every nature question has a God answer. Why does the roly-poly bug do that (roll up into a ball)? How long will he stay like that? What makes the clouds drop rain? Why don’t the white clouds rain? The never ending question machine that is a three-year-old produces never ending opportunities to proclaim the glory of God.
We must take seriously our child’s questions. There are stages during which the frequency of the questions can become annoying, but answers to questions that a child brings up are important, and the way we answer questions is important. Patience and endurance are the key here. I urge you to make the very best of this opportunity to infuse the day with God’s truth. Realize that your answers to questions he has right now may be more meaningful than Sunday school answers to questions he doesn’t yet have. Our hearts do not naturally long for God and His truth, so take any question as an opportunity for a truth inroad.
Does this mean we wait for questions? No, not at all. It just means that when a child asks a question, it is a particularly good opportunity to talk. First of all, be sure you understand what the child is asking. Does God live under the grass and dirt? Is this a question about God’s omnipresence? If God is everywhere at the same time, is he even under the grass and dirt? (Have you ever thought about that? Frankly, I haven’t. I think about the everywhere being in the air somehow.) In my grandson’s case, the question wasn’t about God’s attribute of being everywhere at the same time, which may yet come up. In essence he was saying, I know Grandma was put under the grass and dirt, but you said she went to live with God. Is God’s home under the grass and dirt?
The Deuteronomy 6 Mandate
This kind of on-the-ready conversation with our children reminds me of Deuteronomy 6:6-9 in which Moses instructs parents (and grandparents, note Deuteronomy 6:1-2) to be talking about God with their children day in and day out as a way of life.
“These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9).
In the case of Israel, this conversation included the law which God had just entrusted to Moses, and, as Moses goes on to elaborate, Israel’s amazing history which they were living out. Israel needed to know and remember that their God was the one and only God who had brought them out of slavery. They were to love and serve Him with all their heart, soul and strength and to teach love and faithfulness to God down through the generations.
The Mandate for Today
As Christian parents, we have a parallel responsibility. We must share the glory of God with the next generation. We must tell our children the great story of who God is, and what He did in history to rescue us from the sin that doomed us to eternal separation from Him.
Our inability to keep God’s law is what brings us to recognition of our helplessness before God. Instead of delivery from slavery in Egypt by the human savior Moses, we are delivered from slavery to sin by the divine Savior Jesus Christ who perfectly fulfilled the law for us. These are truths that we can communicate during discipline situations to help our children understand that we can never be good enough to earn God’s favor but that forgiveness is to be had in Jesus Christ.
We have personal histories with God, just as Israel did. Reminders of God’s faithfulness should be peppered throughout our conversations with our children. Praise to Him for his daily provision should distinguish us from the Israelites who grumbled about daily manna. Gratitude for His protection should come whenever we travel; for His healing whenever we are ill. Prayer out loud should go up when we hear a siren, when we receive an email prayer request, when family conflict arises. News stories should generate prayer, as well as reminders that God is in control of individual lives and of nations.
That is what Deuteronomy 6:6-9 looks like for today’s Christian parent. A little different than for Israel, but then again, not that much different. We love and serve the same great God. What an immense responsibility he has privileged us with, the transmission of the knowledge of His glory to the next generation.
What great questions have your children asked? (Another one of my grandson’s was “When is Jesus going to begin wearing pants?” I confess I did not have a deep theological answer for that one. What misunderstandings have come to light through your child’s questions? Can you share a time that a non-biblical question led to an opportunity to share biblical truth with your child?