Published by Beaming Books on October 24, 2023
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"I've tried asking grown-ups to explain God, but they aren't very good at it."
Explaining who God is can be really hard. Especially for grown-ups. They like to use confusing words like "Trinity," "outside of time," and "everywhere all at once." What's a kid to do if they can't explain God? Maybe it's not such a problem after all. The little girl in this story realizes there are so many things in the world that are hard to explain, but not hard to accept. Like how people speak in many languages; how the sun is a color, a feeling, and also light; and how people in her family have different names for each other. So what if you can't explain God? What matters is that God loves you--and that's not confusing at all!
In this new picture book by the author of Maybe God Is Like That Too, children will learn that accepting a bit of mystery is part of what it means to have faith.
I have a confession: Despite my Doctor of Ministry degree and despite having been a youth pastor, I have a hard time explaining God to my kids. The older I get and the deeper I grow in my faith, the harder God seems to explain. And I’ve moved from a place where I once wanted to be considered a Christian apologist to now where I’d rather be called a mystic. I don’t need the answers. I’m content to sit in the mystery of Christ. But how do I pass that along to my children—particularly when that wasn’t my upbringing and when their worldviews are, by virtue of their age, more simplistic and rigid?
What if I Can’t Explain God? is the story of a little girl who finds herself with unsatisfactory answers. God is hard to explain, she says, I’ve tried asking grown-ups to explain God, but they aren’t very good at it. She begins to relate other things in like that are hard to explain—how fizzy drinks tickle her nose or how dolphins want to be friends with people, or how people can all speak in different languages but be saying the same thing. And after this litany, we return once more to relate how all of these difficult-to-explain things are also similar to the way God is.
It’s a beautiful, inclusive, and mystic children’s theology that invites kids to simply sit in the wonder of it all—Maybe all that matters is knowing that God made me, knowing that God is near me, and knowing that God loves me. What if I Can’t Explain God? has helped me reframe the way I talk about God with my children and reminded me that I don’t have to have explainable answers.
My six-year-old son is Autistic. He has a brain that is wonderfully complex and recently been trying to understand God. He’s also been having bad dreams for the first time. After saying a goodnight prayer with him and turning out the light, he said quietly from beneath his blankets,
“God will take care of me?”
“Yes,” I replied, “God will take care of you.”
“But I can’t see God,” he replied.
A few months ago, I probably would have tried to explain divine omnipresence. Instead, with the lessons of this book in my mind, I replied, “I know. And that’s hard to understand. But God can see you.”
That script has become part of our bedtime routine. God will take care of me? God can see me? the first person in Scripture to name God is Hagar, who calls God “The One Who Sees.” God sees me. God cares for me. Isn’t that explanation enough.
What if I Can’t Explain God? gives adults and children a gentle reminder that it’s okay that God can’t be explained. The mystery of Godself and the comfort and presence they bring is more than enough.