When I was younger I often said that I was not going to have children.I imagined I would travel and do my part to save the world. I wasn’t sure exactly how. I thought I would start of with the Student Conservation Assoication and then the Peace Corp. But when opportunities knocked, I answered the door, even when it wasn’t whom I expected. So life led me down a different path than I expected, and as scary as it is to say this out loud, I’ve often wondered if I didn’t live up to my potential. So many plans, unfulfilled. But maybe God just had a different plan for me. Not better or worse than someone else’s plan; just a different niche to fill than I was expecting.
I now have two children. My son Acorn is 3, and my daughter Nut is 10 months old. I know Nut is often distracting you all from the sermon. Last week in the middle of the message she stood without holding onto anything for the first time. She’s been threatening to take her first steps for a few days now.
And Acorn, right on schedule for a three year old, is really into asking us “Why?” about everything.
And I’m loving it!
I was lucky to grow up in a house in which my parents didn’t very often say, “because I said so.” Instead my parents indulged my inquiries and tried to explain their reasoning. “Why?”
Whether intentional or not, this helped me to develop my own reasoning abilities so that I could come up with a reasonable answer to a question when my parents weren’t there to ask. So please indulge me this morning, and whenever I pause to give you the opportunity, ask me “Why?”
When I was in school, no one wanted to debate with me. “Why?”
Because I wouldn’t argue unless I had some some reasonable points to back up my argument. “Why?”
Because my parents taught me there was a reason behind everything. “Why?”
We aspire to give our children the tools they will need to find their own answers and make good decisions, so I indulge my son’s inquiries. His "Why."
My son also loves trains. “Are we going to bump over the train tracks?” Yes.
“Why?” Because they’re in our path.
“Why?” Because a train goes through here.
“Why?” It takes goods from one part of the country to another.
“Why?” Because we have different resources in different parts of the country.
We want the things the people in California have, and they want the things the people in Virginia have, so we trade.
“Why?” Why What?
And then he does his best to repeat back “Why [followed by the answer I just gave him].” This often doesn’t make grammatical sense, and I have to tell him, “I’m sorry; I don’t understand your question,” but he’s learning; we both are.
“Why” is so great because it covers everything! From birth to death, and everything in between!
I find the questions that most often surprise me are the ones that I answer with, “Because I love you.” “Why?” Because you’re my baby.
“Why?” Because I gave birth to you.
“Why?” Because you grew in me.
Yes, folks, we’re already learning how babies are made. Happy Mother’s Day.
And this line of questioning has grown so familiar, he often skips the why and just confirms the answer he knows I will give.
“Because I grew in you?” Yes
“From you and Daddy?” Yes
“And God made Daddy?” Yes!
“Because God loves us?” Yes
He usually skips a few steps, but the conclusion he arrives at always warms my heart. Because another answer I frequently get to give, is “because God loves us.”
And I have my church family to thank for this. We often refer to the church “body.” And this is an appropriate metaphor, because after we are born from our mother’s bodies, if we are lucky, we are born into a church body where we will have many mothers. I have many mother figures here today that have shown me the love of God all my life, and helped me to grow in God.
On our recent trip to California, we visited another one of the mother figures in my life. Diane is another very strong and gentle woman, and she helped me realize, (not for the first time) that sometimes, I’m making up answers!
Not answers that can be proven wrong, but answers that none of us know. Answers that we can only guess at. For example:
“We’re going through a tunnel?” Yes
“Why?” Because there’s a mountain in our way, and it’s easier to go through it than around it.
“Why?” Why what?
“Why is there a mountain?” Because the plates of the earth push against each other and form mountains.
“Why?” Because that’s how God made it.
And here’s where I start guessing. I might start talking about different environments for different animals that fill all the different niches, until I usually work my way around to “Because God loves us.”
But it really would be easier if I stopped guessing.
When we visited Miss Diane in California, her answer was often, “Because that’s the way God made it.”
Diane: “I don’t know; you’ll have to ask God.”
So now, it’s my job to teach my children how to talk to God. Luckily, I know this is not just on me. I trust that it’s not just on me because just as you have all mothered me, I know you will mother my children as well.
And I want to thank you all for showing me the love of God, and for loving my children as your own.
Usually, when I’m asked to give a group prayer, I take the easy way out and we have a moment of silent prayer. But I’m still learning. Please join me in prayer.
God, thank you for the “Why’s.”
Help us to remember that we don’t always have to have the answers.
That sometimes we just have to have faith that you love us and want what’s best for us.
And when we have a feeling that you want us to do something, even if we don’t understand why, help us to trust your wisdom.
Help us to learn that when we hear from you, “Because I said so,” it means, “Because I love you.”
Thank you for loving us, and giving us this beautiful world in which we can ask, "Why," and live and grow in you, so that we might one day be born again through you. Amen.