What God Doing?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

When we left church a couple of weeks ago, my toddler asked her first theological question.

"Where's God?" she wanted to know.

In the front seat, I glanced back at her little cherub face in the rear mirror and took a deep breath. Here it comes, I thought. At the age of two, she has begun the "God questions," and I'm just hoping I'm half up to the task. Get one of these wrong, and one day she'll be wondering why the foundation of her world is cracking in half, why I put her on the fault line.

"God is everywhere, honey. God is with you, God is with Mama, God is with Daddy, God is everywhere." (On top of the question of the "correct" answer, there's the question of how to translate it into terms a two-year-old can understand. Does she have half a grasp on the meaning of "everywhere?" I doubt it some, but then again, I tend to underestimate what she understands, as evidenced by how often I accidentally talk about her Christmas presents right in front of her.)

Anyway, I felt pretty good about that answer. Pretty sure.

The next week, she upped the ante.

"What God doing?" she asked me.


"Ummmm," I murmured, "good question, honey."

Only two years old, two "God questions" in, and I'm out of my league.

I think part of my problem was that I took the question quite concretely. My daughter is, after all, two. She asks, "What doing, Mama?" about 50 times a day, and every time the answer is something like, "Cooking your lunch, sweetie," or "Sweeping," or "Changing your diaper." I don't exactly answer her questions with an abstract explanation that I'm "parenting," even though that answer would of course be true.

In the same vein, I didn't really think answers like "redeeming the world" were exactly what she was looking for. So the question, as I heard it, was: What is God doing, precisely? Like, right now.

Good question.

The reason she's asking is because my daughter is concerned--you might even say obsessive--about the exact whereabouts and activities of her most immediate family members. Every morning, once her daddy has left, she wants to know "Where Daddy? What Daddy doing?" Even though the answer is always, always the same. It doesn't matter. She wants to hear me say it. Wants the assurance of placing her daddy on the map, imagining what he's doing.

Why is it that not once in the last two years have I shouted from the bedroom, "What doing, God?"

Anyway, the whole thing is bothering me, because frankly I don't really know "what God doing." I mean, I know a lot of things that God did. I know a couple of things that God will do. But here? Now? What doing?

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