Imagine being in God's hands

Bedtime Theology with the 5 yo...   

(After singing “He's Got the Whole World in His Hands” together)

5 yo: (Holds up his hands) Does he really have the whole world in his hands?

Me: Great question! What do you think?

5 yo: Look at my hand! (Places it on the bed) I can't even fit the bed in my hands. How could he get the world in his hands?

Me: Well, I think it's more like a saying. I think when it says the world is in God's hands, it's another way of saying God is taking care of the whole world.

5 yo: Oh! That makes more sense!

My children love Amelia Bedelia books and find her literal interpretations hilarious. When told to toss a salad, throws it in the grass. She brings tent stakes on a camping trip....steaks cut in tent shapes. And when Mrs. Rogers asks her to do some spot removal on a dress, she cuts all the polka dots off. 

Inspired by Amelia's antics, my children take the same literal approach. I'm going to run upstairs, I say, and my oldest tells chastises me, saying we are not allowed to run on stairs. I tell my son he got a brain freeze from his ice cream and he pretends to panic that his brain is frozen. And here, when I tell them God has the whole world in his hands, my child asks, with all seriousness, how such a thing is possible.

Sometimes raising children in the Christian faith feels a little like the quote from the queen in Alice in Wonderland: " Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." We ask children, who see the world literally, to believe all kinds of impossible things about God, not just before breakfast but all day long. 

In a way, the miraculous stories of the Bible are too abstract for a child in the literal stage of brain development. But in another way, when we connect with children's power of imagination, the stories become alive, and become real. 

Look mom, I'm a Jedi knight, my son says, grabbing a pool noddle and wielding it with flair. A cardboard box becomes a boat, an airplane, a spaceship. My children make all kinds of Playdough "food" which I am required to "eat," and they beam with delight when I rave over their "cookies." When children are in a space of play and imagination, anything is possible, and anything can feel real. If all these things are real to my children, why would the miracle of loaves and fishes, or even the resurrection be any different?

What if we talked about God in the same playful and imaginative way? What if we made space (gave permission) for children to imagine God in whatever way they dreamt up? What if God turned out to be something like their wildest imaginations? Literally.


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