The mystery in the mist | The Salvation Army

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The mystery in the mist

9 March 2019 war cry header image
Posted March 10, 2019

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I’m a parent who loves to talk to my child about God, but I often find myself in theological tangles, trying to explain abstract ideas to a very literal six-year-old. 

Jacob loves the story of Jesus dying on the cross and rising again—and I love that he loves it. But when I tried to explain why Jesus died, I broke out in a cold sweat trying to navigate ‘penal substitution’ and ‘Christus victor’ theories, without stumbling into some sort of heresy. My fellow over-thinkers out there might relate!

So, imagine my relief when Salvation Army Children’s Mission Director Hannah Medland said that she embraces the mystery. ‘I often say to children, “Isn’t it mysterious?” so we talk about the mystery of Easter, and we wonder about it together.’

I decided to try this with my son. When he asked me what God is like, instead of answering for him, I asked, ‘What do you think God is like?’ We chatted about this, and talked about God being everywhere and how we could feel God, even though we can’t see God. Finally, Jacob said, ‘I think God is a mist’. The over-thinker in me was horrified.

But, as I reflected, I thought that it wasn’t a bad metaphor for God—we can’t see God but he is everywhere and we can feel him. It’s probably more biblical than an old man with a white beard sitting on a cloud.

I’m really enjoying the spiritual journey with my child; as we explore Bible stories together, I find that I’m also learning again to wonder at the mystery of the eternal God.

Ingrid Barratt

Bible verse

John 1:18
No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.
Hoani 1:18
Kāhore anō he tangata i kite noa i te Atua; ko te Tama kotahi, kei te uma nei o te Matua, nāna ia i whakapuaki.