“Mommy, who is God?” 

My son’s words stopped me mid-step in his darkened bedroom, halfway between the freedom of me time and parental obligation. I crouched alongside his bed, rubbed his back and said, “Buddy, that’s a good question. I’m gonna need to think about it.” 

For many, this seemingly simple question is surprisingly complex. 

My mind whirled. Should I tell him the truth, that lately I’d been searching for answers myself? The question that haunted me at night was: Where is God? Now also: Who is God? 

Scripture offers myriad metaphors to describe God’s character. God as Light. God as Father. God as Word. God as Rock. Then there’s the curious account when God, in the form of a burning bush, is pressed by Moses for a name and responds: “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14). 

As a child, I imagined God with a snow-white beard, seated on a golden throne in the sky, surrounded by swirls of clouds. The God of my childhood swooped in to smite enemies and send manna when everything went wrong. As an adult grappling with family illness for two years, I wanted that God to materialize and immediately end our suffering. While I waited, I questioned if God even existed. 

The words came at me in the darkness: “I AM WHO I AM.”  

Though I’ve had no burning bush moment, I have seen God’s handiwork in the rolling tide, the quiet forest, the rising mountains. So I told my son that God created everything in the world—the sky and the earth and the animals and the people and, yes, even him. I waited for his response. “Thanks, Mommy,” he said, snuggling down in his covers.  

“Good night, sweetheart. I love you,” I whispered, kissing his head and ducking out before he could spring any more theological queries. 

These days I long for a softer God. God as Breath. God as Water. God as Mother. God as Healing. 

Occasionally I wake up angry at God. Most days I don’t. Lately I’ve been finding rest in this passage: “So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them” (1 John 4:16). 

I want to teach this to my son over and over: the love we share is a gift from God. And God is Love.

Practices 

  • Find a Christian song just for kids and add it to your child’s bedtime routine. A favorite at our house is “God Is So Good.” 
  • Read your favorite Bible story or Christian book. Discuss what the story reveals about God’s identity. We love Images of God for Young Children (Eerdmans, 2010). 
Erin Strybis
Erin Strybis is a content editor of Living Lutheran and member of Resurrection Lutheran Church in Chicago. Find more of her stories on Instagram (@erinstry) and at erinstry.com.

Read more about: