Chloe is very curious. And precocious. When together, these traits make for some very difficult conversations. For example, a couple of months ago, she tackled the issue of the trinity. She wanted to have it explained to her over and over again until she could grasp how one "person" could also be three "people". She has read the apple book - the analogy about how there are seeds, the pulp and the skin - but only one apple - but that wasn't sufficient for her. She still grappled with understanding and also with how it applied to her life. She can grasp the individual parts - she loves that God is her Heavenly Father, Jesus is her friend and the Holy Spirit is her helper and "conscience" but she can't seem to wrap her little brain around their together-ness. Finally I told her that, first of all, I don't get it either, but also that there have been people who have studied about God for years and years and they still don't quite fully understand it. The important part is to accept it on faith and to remember that if we could completely understand God, He wouldn't be God. Finally she seemed at peace with that issue.
As of last week, her questions have turned to how God can let people go to hell. Why do people go to "a bad place" just because they don't believe in God? What if they never heard about Him? Can God make someone love Him? If its so easy to believe in and love God, why don't people do it?
She seems very preoccupied with the "unfairness" of people going to hell. I think she's trying to wrap her head around how a loving God could "send" people to such a bad place. I've tried to explain to her that God doesn't want anyone to perish - He wants everyone to love Him and that He's sad when someone dies without knowing and accepting Him. So naturally, she wants to know why He doesn't just change the system and let everyone come to heaven. We've discussed how God is holy and how He can't be around sin so people who go to heaven have to be covered with the forgiveness that was given to us when Christ died on the cross. When someone dies who hasn't accepted that forgiveness, they still carry their guilt and still have to be punished. She doesn't understand. Sometimes, neither do I. My heart breaks at the thought of losing some of my friends and family for eternity to a place as terrible as hell.
Along with this conversation then comes questions about why sin has to be paid for with death - with sacrifice and with the shedding of blood. I have told her, up to this point, that this is the way God set up the system... Again, she asks, if He's God, He can change the system, right?
At this point in the conversation, I've come to the end of my theological knowledge and I have to try to redirect her to reading her Bible and asking God for those answers. I tell her that I don't know everything but that I believe what the Bible says and I believe that it is our love letter from God and that if there's anywhere she can find an answer to her questions, it would be there...
Who knew that in addition to a early childhood education degree, years of experience in housekeeping, and an elaborate understanding of psychology, you'd also need a masters in theology in order to raise children?!?!?!? Thankfully, I don't have to have all the answers because I know the One who does. My job is to teach her to go to the source of Truth and to learn from Him - not the screwed up, confused human that I am.
I love her curiosity. And I love that she is learning about God and grappling with these subjects. I pray that the journey will strengthen her faith. And mine too as we search for answers together.