When my mom and David married, I acquired a niece and a nephew. They were small at the time and a little shy, so it took some warming up before relationships could really develop.
I remember the first real relational encounter with Kevin, my nephew, pretty vividly. A few years ago, he was out of school because he was sick, and I happened to be home that day too. He wanted to watch Star Wars. I think he had only seen the newer episodes because when I brought out the originals he was a little skeptical. (He was also perplexed to find out that a rectangular brick-like object was a movie.)
We watched Episodes IV, V and VI and he immediately started asking me questions.
“Who who who ki ki kills Dar Darth Vader?”
Kevin had trouble speaking. Initially, they were worried if he would speak at all, or if he would need speech therapy. His mom put him in speech therapy and then once he started speaking, the trouble was getting him to stop. He still spoke with a bit of a stutter and so it took him a little longer to say things, or ask questions, especially about Star Wars because he would get so excited.
Some of the questions were kind of easy to answer.
“The Emperor kills Vader, ultimately, but he had a lot of things wrong with him.”
“Oh.” Pause. “Wh-wh-why does Yo-Yo-Yoda die?” His big blue eyes wide and searching my face.
“Well, Kev, he died of old age.”
“Olddage? What’s olddage?”
“No, Kevin. Old. Age.”
Some of the questions were not so easy…
“Why duh-does Lu-lu-Luke’s dad le-le-leave him? Wah-was Luke sssad?”
I had never really thought about all that. I just took the information presented. I’m sure Luke was sad. Luke’s dad left because he was selfish. (I didn’t say that.) It was a movie, and things happened because George Lucas said so. (I didn’t say that either.) But that’s one of the things about Kevin. He asks questions when most people just accept the information presented.
A few months later, it was David’s birthday, which is in the neighborhood of Easter. We were at church enjoying a birthday cake with fellow church folk and one of the ladies, who had been working with the children on the Easter program, was telling us a story about Kevin. He had one of the speaking parts and paused to ask, “Why was it God’s plan to have Jesus d-d-die on the cr-cr-cross?”
She just stood there for a while trying to decide what to say to the inquisitive six-year-old. I don’t remember what she said to him, but it made me think more about how we often just accept Jesus’ death because it’s the information presented to us. We have our theological answers as to why, the it-was-prophesied answers, but, really, God could have done whatever he wanted.
Surely, we’d have been better off to have Jesus around just a little bit longer. Surely, grace could have been accomplished by some other means. However, God doesn’t do the things He does on a whim. God knows us intimately. He speaks our language. He uses this knowledge to get at us in the most effective ways. God creates a story from the circumstances of our lives, one to tug uniquely at our souls, communicating the limitless depth of a love we can barely understand. Yet, I certainly know of no other heartbreakingly beautiful thing than God sending His perfect Son to die a criminal’s death for you and for me.
We cannot begin to know why God does what He does, or did what He did. We can’t know anything for sure. That’s why it’s called faith. But, we can be filled with hope, for His goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives and He is using every circumstance, thought, feeling, doubt, question, for His glory and our good.