Some days don’t you just want definitive directions?
Why is it so hard to understand the words and workings of Jesus?
And just how are we to explain the mysterious nature of God to our literal-thinking, want-a-definitive-answer, continually questioning kids? This sort of frustration happened in Jesus’ time as well.
Nicodemus came to Jesus with questions. He had high expectations but he left his visit even more puzzled. Jesus had told him: One needs to be born from above (often translated as “born again”) in order to see, or experience, the kingdom of God (from John 3:3). How can an adult be born a second time? Nicodemus didn’t get it. Do you?
So what are we to say when our kids ask a tough question?
Use this phrase: “Sometimes we have to live in the mystery.”
Go ahead; practice saying it:
“Sometimes we have to live in the mystery.”
Ambiguity is a fundamental part of our faith journey. If we knew with absolute certainty all of the answers, we wouldn’t bother to experience anything new! It is important to cherish the questions and the wondering.
Jesus rarely gave a straight answer when questioned. It is said that he only directly answered three of the 183 questions asked of him! So when your kids ask you a tough question, explain as best as you can and when you don’t know anymore say, “Sometimes questions about God and Jesus don’t have clear answers. Sometimes we have to live in the mystery.”
Then, of course, your kids will want to know what you mean by “live in the mystery.” Explain this concept by using a technique that Jesus often employed: storytelling. Try telling a story that has a bit of frustration in it; something where the ending leaves you with more questions. Something like this:
You are visiting a far-away country where the language is different from your own. Conversation with the locals is downright impossible. Thankfully you find a place to stay by looking for that international symbol for lodging – a picture of a bed. Because you are somewhat adventurous in your eating habits, you order food in a restaurant by pointing at what someone else is having. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. There are daily frustrations. You try to buy cheese at the local market, but nothing looks like the cheese you want! You don’t know how to describe cheddar. You leave the store empty-handed. Later, back in your home country you think of your time in that foreign place and you wonder what you were to have learned from your adventure. You don’t know. Sometimes we have to live in the mystery.
I’m struggling to live in the mystery. How about you?