As adults, we often find ourselves surprised by the questions and ideas that come from the mouths of children. Some we might dismiss as naïve, silly, or the product of an overactive imagination. But sometimes, the questions that children ask can open our eyes to fresh insights and new ways of thinking about things.
So before we dismiss the questions of children as cute and unimportant, let’s pause to see if there is something that we can learn from these questions—and their answers. Read on as we learn about God through the eyes of a child.
1. How Tall is God?
As children, when we heard about God, we all formed some image of Him in our minds. In my earliest memories, I pictured God as a very old man (who looked suspiciously like George Burns). As I grew older, I pictured God as a larger-than-life imposing man with a long beard who stood head-and-shoulders above everyone around Him.
Each of you has a mental picture of God, too. Perhaps informed by pop culture, as mine were, or from whatever stories and descriptions were most vivid in your memory.
Most of us probably think of God as a big being. After all, if “He’s got the whole world in his hands,” then He has to be big enough to hold the world, right? But when we ask “how tall is God?” can we come up with an answer that actually makes Him big enough?
The Bible tells a few stories where God chose to take on human form and interact with people.
- Abraham was visited by God and two angels (Genesis 18:1-15)
- Jacob wrestled with God (Genesis 32:22-32)
- Jesus is God in the flesh (John 1:1-14)
In each of these stories, when God chooses to take on a human body, He is seen as a normal man. Abraham and Jacob did not realize at first that they had encountered God. And many people who met Jesus regarded him as just as ordinary as everyone else.
The fact that none of these stories tell us how tall God was when He appeared in a body suggests that His height was not extraordinary and that He chose to take on ‘normal’ size.
But since God isn’t usually in a physical body, it is hard to describe how tall He is in the spiritual world. After all, the spiritual world is different from our physical world. But singing about a God who has “the whole world in His hands” gets us thinking in the right direction.
In fact, scripture tells us that God has the whole universe in His hands:
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.Colossians 1:17
The world, the animals, you and me, and even the sun, moon, and stars are all in His hands. That makes God so big that we can’t see where He begins and where He ends!
2. Can God Travel Faster than Light?
In grade school, we learned that light from the sun takes 8 minutes to reach the earth, and that light from the next-nearest star takes about 4 years to reach the earth.
In numeric terms, I learned that light travels at a speed of 186,000 miles/second (or 300,000 kilometers/second). My ten-year-old brain didn’t even want to attempt the math to compare the speed of light to the speed of a car or an airplane (my adult brain will pass on the calculation as well).
Scientists have not found any object, particle, or energy that moves faster than light. In fact, most scientists accept that nothing in the universe can travel faster than light. The math developed by Albert Einstein suggests that traveling faster than light would make time move backward!
But what about God? Is he stuck like us, or can God travel faster than light?
Well, God made light before He made the stuff that makes light:
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.Genesis 1:3-5
So that means that God himself is the original source of light. There were no stars and no sun. Just God and the light.
Since God made light as well as the laws of nature that control how light works, we can conclude that God could change or break those rules if He wanted to.
But there is another important thing to think about. Just like we can’t measure God’s height because He is bigger than the universe, the fact that God is everywhere at once (holding the universe together) means that He doesn’t really have to travel, either.
It takes the light of the sun eight minutes to reach the earth. So if God can get here faster, how long does it take Him to get from the sun to the earth? Or from our solar system to the edge of the Milky Way or beyond?
He does it so quickly that before we can even think of the question, He’s already there! Because He is always in all places, He doesn’t even need an instant to make the trip.
When we think about it this way, God makes light look like a slowpoke!
3. Can God Help Me with My Grades?
There is an old joke about a town where the waters were rising, and the residents had to flee. One resident prayed to God to rescue him and God answered that He would do so. A fire truck came down the road and offered the man a ride, but he refused to go, saying, “God will rescue me.”
Later, the water rose and the man was on his roof when a boat came to rescue him, followed by a helicopter. Each time the man refused the help, saying, “God will rescue me.”
No further help came and the man drowned. When he stood before God’s throne, he asked “Why didn’t You rescue me?”
God answered, “I sent you a fire truck, a boat, and a helicopter. What more did you expect Me to do?”
Sometimes when we pray for help, we might be tempted to think like this flood victim. So when we ask if God can help us with our grades, we know that He certainly can help, but we need to think about what that help actually looks like.
Can God hack into the school’s computer to change your grades? Or can He fill your brain with all of the correct answers to tomorrow’s test?
He has the power to do these things. But we should not expect that He will answer this way because it is not consistent with His character and His purposes for us.
When we pray for help with the things that we are responsible to do (like schoolwork), God usually helps by equipping us to do them. Nobody in scripture models this kind of prayer better than Nehemiah.
Nehemiah was living in exile in Babylon when the Jews started returning to Jerusalem. When word reached him that the city walls were in ruins, it broke his heart. So he prayed to God for a solution, and God answered his prayer by giving Nehemiah a plan and permission (through the king) to return to Jerusalem and lead the people in rebuilding (Nehemiah 2:1-10).
When a few enemies of the Jews objected to Nehemiah’s work, they tried to force him to stop. So Nehemiah prayed again, and again God showed him a plan, which Nehemiah used to finish the wall in record time (vs 4:4-15, 6:9-15).
Prayer. Response. Action.
This formula works well when we ask God for help with our grades, too.
He might not change your test scores, but He might show you how to change your priorities. He might give you the insight to see if another activity is cutting into your homework time.
He might help you meet someone who can become a useful study partner. If you’re in high school and have some say in which classes you choose, God might give you the wisdom to pick the classes that best suit your skills and His purposes for you.
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.James 1:5
It takes more than wisdom to get good grades, but God will supply the wisdom when you ask for it. Then when you apply His wisdom to your particular situation, He will guide you in using it.
4. Can God Hug Me?
One of the most assuring expressions of love that we know is the hug. As babies, before we understood words or could form them ourselves, we found comfort in the loving embrace of a parent. We learned to reach for their arms and to cling tight.
As toddlers, we might have latched on to our mom’s leg, or instinctively offered a sympathetic hug to our parents, siblings, and even our pets when we saw that they were sad or hurt.
As adults, we use hugs to greet our loved ones or to say farewell. We use them to celebrate joy, express affection, and offer comfort.
When we consider all of the ways that God loves us and cares for us, sometimes we might long for His arms to reach through the heavens and wrap us in an embrace.
But few, if any of us, ever experience a tangible interaction with God. As we mentioned earlier, God seldom chooses to inhabit a body. Even in scripture, after Jesus’ ascension, there is no record of God appearing in bodily form.
So we might feel like we’re left longing for that elusive hug from God even while we take comfort in the ‘spiritual hugs’ found in His words of comfort and encouragement in scripture.
But if we read scripture carefully, we see that one of the most powerful and heartfelt hugs ever delivered by Jesus is available to us:
Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”
He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.” Mark 9:35-37
Reminding his disciples what greatness really looks like in God’s kingdom, Jesus took a child in his arms. In an embrace. He hugged the child. It is important to understand that children, in Jesus’ time, were largely dismissed and ignored. Yet, here we witness Jesus, taking an overlooked child and hugging him.
But there’s more. Jesus also tells his disciples that when we receive a child—a forgotten and overlooked person—we receive him.
If you have children, you’ve no doubt experienced a random hug, out of the blue, with no apparent cause. Even among adults, a hug from a spouse or a friend sometimes touches us far deeper than we—or the other person—anticipated.
The next time this happens, consider that perhaps this person was sent to deliver a hug from God.
5. Is God an Alien?
Because the universe is so big and we can’t see past the stars, it is hard for us to imagine where heaven is. So it might be easy for a child (and even for many adults) to think of heaven as a far-off realm on the other side of the cosmos.
But if heaven is in another galaxy, would that make God an alien?
Movies, comic books, and more have fueled our fascination with aliens for over a century. And some popular books and TV shows have even tried to explain spiritual phenomena recorded in the Bible as alien activity.
So could it help us to imagine God as an alien?
Not really. In a previous article about aliens, we explain why the Bible doesn’t support the idea of intelligent alien life. People were created with a unique purpose and a unique status as the only creatures who are created in God’s image. So any alien life that could exist must be inferior to man.
Now some of you might ask, “Could God be a man-like alien that made us in His image?” it’s a fun question, but the answer is that it still doesn’t work.
The other problem we have with imagining God as an alien—even a man-like one—is that aliens would still have to exist within the universe. And as we explored in a different article, God is the Creator of the universe and He exists outside of it.
So God can’t be both an alien (a created being) and the Creator, because nothing can create itself.
Also, unlike an alien, God can be everywhere at once because He is outside of the boundaries of the universe, holding it all together.
6. Who is God’s Wife?
When we first learned about God, He was described to us in very human terms. We were taught that God is our heavenly Father and that Jesus is the only Son of God. Of course, we learned these terms because they are used in the Bible to describe God to us. But they leave us with some unanswered questions.
We know that Jesus had a mother named Mary who was married to Joseph. And we know that the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, caused Mary to conceive. But we never hear about God having a wife (or Jesus having a mother) in heaven. Does God even have a wife? And if so, who is she?
God doesn’t have a wife, because relationships work differently for God than they do for us.
Sometimes, the Bible refers to the church as the Bride of Christ. But that doesn’t mean that each Christian is a “bride,” individually. Rather, the whole church—the whole group of believers—is the Bride of Christ.
Confusing? It helps to understand that God designed the family in a way that shows us the different ways that we relate to Him. Then we can see what the Bible means when it calls the church the Bride of Christ. We’ll explore three different family relationships.
Parents and Children
Let’s start with the easy one. The Bible tells us that God is our heavenly Father and that we are His children. In human families, parents are around first, then children come from the parents. Children tend to resemble their parents and might have the same hair color or facial features.
Children also depend on their parents.
Newborns are helpless. They cannot eat, walk, or talk on their own. Their parents must care for them. Children learn more and become more like their parents as they approach adulthood.
Also, parents are the bosses of the children. The parents make the rules and set the boundaries for the children, and parents correct children when their behavior is out of line.
In all of these ways, God is like a parent to us:
- God made us in His image
- God cares for our needs
- God teaches us and disciplines us
Brothers and Sisters
Most of us have brothers and sisters. Our siblings are like friends, only closer, because we share something in common (parents). As siblings, we might teach each other things, and help each other with things, but not with the same authority that parents have.
When Jesus came to earth, he selected a close group of friends and spent years getting to know them very well. Jesus was humble, so he set aside his authority as God. Instead of bossing his friends around, he worked alongside them and showed them (not just told them) how to live.
Before he ascended to heaven, Jesus called his disciples brothers (John 20:17). Why? Because through Jesus, we are called children of God. And like Jesus, we inherit a share of God’s kingdom.
Husbands and Wives
The most special human relationship that God designed is the marriage between a husband and wife. God established marriage with Adam and Eve before there was any sin, so marriage started out as something perfect. Marriage is meant for two people to be partners in every way and share a unique love together that is just between the two of them.
If you’ve been to a wedding then you have seen how everyone goes to great effort and expense to make sure it is just right. The bride is usually dressed in a fancy gown that shows off her beauty, and the people gathered are there to help the couple celebrate a new bond of partnership and happiness.
Weddings are designed to be the happiest occasion in human experience because marriage is designed to provide the deepest and most satisfying joy.
So it is fitting that in Revelation, when God and his people—the church—are getting ready to spend eternity together in complete happiness and joy, John describes the church as the Bride of Christ:
Let us rejoice and be glad
and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.Revelation 19:7
By coming to earth and dying on the cross, Jesus put great effort and expense into making sure this day would be perfect. And by caring for his church, he has made the church radiant and beautiful. So the people of the church look forward to coming into God’s kingdom with joy and celebration.
In eternity, God and His people—the church—get to spend all time together enjoying the limitless love that God has for His people and the joy that we experience from being in His presence forever.
7. Can God Create a Rock He Cannot Lift?
This is one of those trick questions that is designed to be a “gotcha” trap that tricks Christians into admitting that God is not all-powerful.
How is it a trick question? Well, the obvious and short answer to the question is “No.” In a courtroom, this would be a fine strategy for an opposing attorney completing a cross-examination. But in our space here, we’ll allow the witness’ attorney to redirect so we can hear the long answer to the question, “Can God create a rock He cannot lift?”
The answer isn’t “no” because of a limitation with God or His ability to create. The answer is “no” because of a limitation with the question, which relies on expressing a failure (a negative action) as a positive.
So let’s break the question into its separate components:
- Can God create a rock of any size?
- Can God lift every rock He creates?
Worded this way, it becomes clear that the answer to both questions is “yes.” God created the heavens and the earth, the sun, the moon, and stars. Every rock that already exists was created by God, from the tiniest grain of sand to the largest planet.
Could God go bigger if he wanted to?
Scientists regularly discover planets orbiting distant stars, some of which may be larger than the rocks in our own solar system. What else might be floating around in the vast cosmos?
Still, scripture tells us that God holds every one of these things together (Colossians 1:17) and that He is sovereign over them. As a matter of will, God can move any and all of these rocks as He so chooses.
In order for Him to not be able to lift a rock, as the original question asks, God would have to make the rock more powerful than Himself. (“Can God create something more powerful than himself?” is another common variant of this question.) But since God is infinite, nothing can exceed His power.
This isn’t a shortcoming or a failure on God’s part, it is a testimony to His magnitude. God is infinite by nature and He can never be less than His own nature. So He can never reduce His own power, which is what the original question would require Him to do.
It is only through the linguistic trickery of the original question that turns a “yes” answer into a “no” that we arrive at an answer that only appears to make God limited.
But really, the limit is ours, not His.
- Can God make a rock of any size? Yes.
- Can God lift a rock of any size? Also yes.
- Can God fail? No.
8. Can God Fly? Can God Walk on Water?
When children think about god-like powers, they often think about physical feats that are impossible for humans. We already explored God’s power by examining His ability to create and lift super-sized rocks. But what about other miraculous feats?
We know that God made birds and other creatures that can fly. After thousands of years and many failed attempts, human engineers have finally devised complex machines to help us fly, too.
Likewise, it took some skill and engineering for humans to design rafts and boats that can stay afloat and carry us across the water. Even devices that make us appear to walk or stand on water (such as water skis) require some outside propulsion and an understanding of physics to stay on top of the water.
But if God were to come to earth, would He need any such help, or would He be able to fly through the air and walk across the water to our amazement?
God did come to earth in Jesus, and scripture records Jesus walking on water (Matthew 14:22-26) and ascending to heaven (Acts 1:6-10). But generally, Jesus relied on the normal human ways of getting around.
Still, as the Creator of all things, Jesus (God with us) created all of the physical laws—like gravity—that make our universe operate. And since he exists independent of the universe and he controls it, he could suspend those physical laws if it suits his purposes to do so.
Even though we don’t see a whole lot of water walking and flying in the Bible, we see God manipulating air and water when it was good for Him to do so:
- God parted the Red Sea for the Israelites. (Exodus 14:21-22)
- Jesus calmed the wind and waves on the Sea of Galilee. (Mark 4:35-39)
- God sent a mighty rushing wind to deliver the Holy Spirit (as tongues of fire) to the disciples. (Acts 2:1-4)
These are just a few of the ways that God has shown us His command over nature.
9. Can God Tell You Who to Marry?
In the Old Testament, marriages were sometimes arranged through family members (some cultures still do this today). And in a few stories, it seems that God had a big hand in showing people who they should marry.
Consider Isaac and Rebekah (Genesis 24:10-23). When Abraham’s servant went to find a wife for Isaac, he asked God to show him, through an offer of water for his camel, who He had chosen as a wife for Isaac. The servant’s meeting with Rebecca took place in just the way that the servant requested, so he knew he had an answer from God.
In other stories, God seemed to arrange things in just the right way for two people to get married.
- Jacob and Leah
- Ruth and Boaz
- Mary and Joseph (They were already betrothed, but God told Joseph to go through with the marriage.)
Wouldn’t it be easier for us if God told each of us exactly who we should marry? Possibly, but it is rare that God operates so directly.
One problem is that sometimes we humans hear what we want to hear, and might mistake our own ideas for God’s voice.
When this happens, what do we do when two people both believe that God told them to marry the same person? They can’t both be right. (But they can both be wrong…)
God designed marriage as a good thing, and He desires that people continue to marry (though He calls a few people to remain single), but He also desires that we seek Him first.
So it is important that we not reduce God to a cosmic genie or wise guru who is sitting around waiting to answer our questions. Instead, we should seek Him for the sake of getting to know Him and growing in Him. As we do this, He will give direction to our lives, perhaps by opening doors to serve Him in new ways, or by putting someone in our lives that could be a good future spouse.
So if you are of dating age, and considering marriage, instead of asking God for a simple “yes” or “no,” ask Him to teach you, through dating, how to honor Him and serve Him in the context of a relationship. Spend time praying, studying the Bible, and worshipping with your romantic interest.
If you do, and God uses you to strengthen and support each other in your faith journey, then there is a good chance that He is showing you that a marriage with this person could be fruitful and honoring to Him.
And when you do get married, remember to invite God into the marriage to keep the two of you growing in faith and serving God together.