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  • The Happy Face In The Sky

    November 4, 2009

    In his famous poem Ode to Immortality, Wordsworth wrote that our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting.

    I’ve always loved that imagery. I love the idea that at one time, in some unknown form, we dwelled with God, that we communed intimately with him, knew every line in his face, the softness of his hands, the sound of his voice, the warmth of his embrace.

    And then we were born.

    No wonder we come into this world wailing.

    As we are awakening to a new world, we are dying to another.  Every minute of life carries us further away from whence we came; the older we get, the less we remember of it.

    Last Sunday evening during Children’s Bible Hour, the children were asked to draw a picture of God.  Sean immediately got to work. There was no question in his mind what God looked like.

    The teacher called him to the front of the class and asked him to talk about his picture.  He held it up and told an audience of 30 or so children with confidence that he thinks God is a happy face in the sky with a beard and some swirly lines.

    The teacher nodded and said with a sigh that he was sure there was a message behind his picture. Sean shook his head. “There’s no message behind the picture,” he said and then he showed the teacher the back of his paper.  Blank.  No message.

    The next day, as we were eating breakfast, I saw the drawing at the end of the breakfast bar. I picked it up and looked at it again.  I asked Sean to tell me more about it.  “Well,” he said pointing his fork, “The smiley face with the beard represents God and the swirly lines are a gust of wind.”

    I was intrigued by the idea of God as a gust of wind.

    As I looked at the picture, I thought of how many times God has drawn near to his people in the form of wind – sometimes in a violent gust like in Acts 2:2 and other times as gentle as a whisper as in 1 Kings 19:12.

    I thought of how the Greek word pneuma is used to mean both wind and spirit and how the Hebrew word ruah is used to convey both wind and spirit but also breath – the very essence of life.

    And then I thought that maybe he has not yet travelled so very far from whence he came.

    And I wanted to stand just a little bit closer to him.


    * * *

    More esoterical musings on the nature of God from my She Speaks peeps over here.


    1. Regina says:

      What we can learn from our little ones…. Isn’t it amazing and awesome that Sean already can picture God’s very essence? Makes a Mom proud, doesn’t it!!

      November 4th, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    2. Kitty says:

      I love the imagery of children’s art. It’s uncluttered and honest. Thank you!

      November 4th, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    3. Paulla says:

      I LOVE this – thanks for sharing!

      November 4th, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    4. Stacey says:

      I loved seeing this picture of GOD.
      Just last night my (3rdgrade) daughter said that she doesn’t think GOD named the first people Adam and Eve,
      I said ,,,uh– is written– but she couldn’t wrap her head around the idea that GOD would want to name Adam and Eve… This will be a topic of converstation at church.

      November 4th, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    5. Jenny says:

      So Sweet. Always makes me want more of how children view life and God. Thanks for this.

      November 4th, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    6. Amy says:

      I love this.

      November 4th, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    7. Allison says:

      I love the word pictures that King David uses about God and the wind.
      These are great for scary windy storms with our kids as well.

      Psalm 104:3… “Who maketh the clouds his chariots, who walketh upon the wings of the wind”

      November 4th, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    8. jean says:

      I’m glad you pointed out that God had a beard. I thought it was a giant foot. And I’m glad he drew God with a happy face. Sometimes kids think of Him as stern, which just makes me sad.

      November 4th, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    9. Aunt Murry says:

      Your son is amazing.

      November 4th, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    10. April says:

      Beautiful…both of you. But, I have to argue with Sean, as my daughter insists she’s the only person who knows what God looks like. Supposedly he wears some sort of red tunic and lots of necklaces??? I think I like Sean’s God much better. Maybe hers is some sort of false prophet. Oh, this is disheartening.

      November 4th, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    11. Quirky says:

      Love it! I bet God has His copy of Sean’s picture hanging on the pearly fridge.

      November 4th, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    12. Bee says:

      Wow! What’s really amazing to me, is that he’s so sure. He just knows what God looks like. I’d like to stand closer to him, too.

      November 4th, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    13. Jenny-Jenny says:

      And how often does God tell us to become as little children. No wonder He wants them close to Him, they are teachable and accepting.

      November 4th, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    14. rrmama says:

      Love it when kids draw! Sean is dead on. My 4 yr old drew a “T” on the paper and then made put a huge brown dot in the center with circles all around it and in different colors. He told me it was Jesus on the cross. I liked the way the colors all blended together and he hung it on the fridge. My friend came over and she asked what it was, she replied with I totally get it. Jesus on the cross and the mess that followed and how he cleaned it all up with his death. I never thought of that. And now that is what I see when I look at the picture months later still hanging on my fridge.

      November 4th, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    15. Jenny says:

      I love this….really love this.

      November 4th, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    16. Melanie Chitwood says:

      love the image at the beginning of this post. i’m going to cherish that. I like your new photo!

      November 4th, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    17. Shelly W. says:

      Beautiful. Especially that last line.

      November 4th, 2009 at 6:06 pm

    18. Nan says:

      The bible is full of such beautiful poetry.

      November 4th, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    19. JoLyn says:

      Love your new photo! I appreciate your thoughts on birth — that somewhere else we are “dying” or leaving, when we are born here. I wonder how much of that pre-existence our babies remember, but are unable to tell us.

      November 4th, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    20. melanie gao says:

      When my son was just learning to speak and put together sentences, one of the first things he told me was, “Before I was your baby I was in Jesus.” I believe him.

      November 4th, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    21. Christy Cate says:

      You know, I still remember that as a little girl about Sean’s age, I insisted that God was green (almost a lime green), and sometimes orange, clean-cut man that laughed and smiled all the time. He also seemed to float up above everyone. What does God reveal to the little children?

      November 4th, 2009 at 11:04 pm

    22. Sue Speir says:

      LOVE this!! Out of the mouths of babes!

      November 5th, 2009 at 12:22 am

    23. Lori says:

      Sean has a lot of insight — and a literal mind, as kids do. I think that’s cute that he showed there was nothing “behind” his picture. And what a sweet picture it is. He is very right about the wind in relation to God. The Greek word for spirit is *ruach*, and pneuma can also mean “blow”.

      * * *
      Hmmm. I’ve always understood the word “ruach” (prounounced roo-ark for some reason) to be of Hebrew origin. And that later it was translated into the Greek “pneuma” — obviously both closely associated with the idea of wind and breath. But then again, my knowledge of Greek and Hebrew is rudimentary at best.

      November 5th, 2009 at 3:43 am

    24. Janet says:

      This story reminds me of another.

      My husbands cousin lost his wife to cancer. She left behind a husband, a young set of twins (a boy and a girl) and another small daughter. At her funeral, someone spoke of the loss that we were all feeling, but she compared it to the moment the twins were born. She talked about how terrifying it must have been for the twin that was left in the womb after the first twin was born and how badly he must have wanted to hold onto her and not let her go. Yet she was born into a bright new world full of things she had never imagined, where people welcomed her and loved her, and she couldn’t wait for him to be born and join her there. The person speaking said that it was the same for our loss. We were all mouring that our loved on had left us, but she is celebrating in a new world, full of things we can never imagine, and can’t wait for us to join her there.

      November 5th, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    25. Sherri K. Edman says:

      That is really sweet, especially the stuff about wind. And I think you are right about “ruach” being Hebrew.

      The pedant in me can’t help pointing out, though, that the pre-existence of the soul is not a Christian doctrine but a Platonic one. Poor old Wordsy; he loved Jesus but he was mixed up about a few things.

      Be that as it may, kids are amazing and their insights about God frequently put me to shame, pre-existent souls or not.

      November 8th, 2009 at 10:00 am

    26. Beverlydru says:

      I reward myself with a visit to your blog to catch up on posts like it’s a chocolate sundae, but without the calories. It’s a treat I savor and always enjoy. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

      November 9th, 2009 at 8:55 am

    27. Hillary @ The Other Mama says:

      Loved this! Isn’t it true that babies and kiddos are much closer to God. What a great thought to remember. 🙂

      November 9th, 2009 at 1:15 pm

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