“Dad, did you know Jesus is God?”
“I did know that, honey. Let’s keep reading.”
My heart was heavy already from a variety of thoughts weighing on my mind: I have no idea how to consistently discipline Yosi, as I feel like the Anti-Christ any time I spank. At our Bible study last night, through no fault of the other attendees, I felt completely isolated and alone among the believers I know. And then there’s Hell, which has had us all feeling a little heavy these last few days. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go read the internet again.
As we read the story of Jesus dying for a humanity He loved and loves with terrible and wonderful resolve I felt my heart breaking with the desire to believe this God really is that good, that faith really is as simple as it’s offered, that believing God loves us as much and more than we need Him to is a reality.
With gentle emotion the book drew us closer to the climax, and deposited our heavy hearts at the cross. If life is tough for a three year old to understand, death is all but impossible. She knows that people die, and we have had two pet cats die since she’s been with us, so she gets it on some level, but still. I don’t understand death, or at least what happens afterwards, so how can she?
The story talked about Jesus dying for our sins, and that was when it happened. One word I was not ready for, that I’m not ready for her to be ready for, but a word I knew I couldn’t dodge.
I don’t know, I thought. My heart sank as the seconds ticked by, her pearlescent black irises gazing up at me, preparing to accept as fact whatever came out of my mouth at that moment. And I had nothing. I have no idea what exactly the death of Christ accomplished. I believe we are sinners. I believe our relationship with God is broken. I believe He wants it restored and Jesus coming and living and dying brings that about. But beyond that you’ve got me. I don’t know. I have no idea what role (if any) wrath and substitutionary atonement and justification and eternal consequences play in this. I know what I want to believe, I know what I’m supposed to believe, and I know what I think I believe. But really, I don’t know.
So I decided to tell her that.
“I don’t know exactly, honey. Jesus loved us so much that He died to show us how bad our sin is and how much He loves us anyway. When we do things wrong it hurts God, and He wants us to love Him and love other people. Jesus was willing to die to show us just how much He loves us.”
It might have been a bit choppier than that, with more broken sentances, but that was what I aimed for.
We moved on, and as I read her the words on the page my inner monologue was running I’m supposed to be sealing the deal right now. I’m supposed to be “leading her to Christ” at this moment. She’s asking the type of questions Sunday School teachers have wet dreams about, and yet I’m not giving her the answers her Sunday School teacher would give. OhGodOhGodOhGod. Help me do what’s right.
We moved on and talked about the Resurrection and how happy Jesus and His friends were to see each other again and how Jesus went back to heaven to be with God and He wants us to love people like He did while He was alive, like He does now. She laughed with silliness when Mary Magdalene ran excitedly to tell the disciples Jesus was alive.
I refuse to present my daughter with an algebraic equation of how God works, because I haven’t been able to solve for x in that equation myself for years. I want her to know that God loves her, that He loves everyone who ever has been or will be born. I want her to know that God wants a relationship with her, that He wants her to love Him and to love others because she loves Him and He loves her. I want her to live life with gusto because the Spirit that is that Love fills her lungs and makes her laugh till she cries. I want her to know God, regardless of what else she doesn’t, what else we can’t. Isn’t that Christianity?
I turned out her light and tucked her in and kneeled down beside her pillow to sing to her and pray. She asked me some other tough questions, which I will write about another day, and finally I said, “Yosi, I want you to stop thinking about this for now. I want you to fall asleep thinking about how much Jesus and Mommy and Daddy love you. Will you trust me and do that?” Tears blurred my vision as I kissed her forehead.
“Yes, Daddy.” And she closed her eyes.
Linking with Emily today.