The Question of Eternity

Thom DickApologetics, Featured2 Comments

Yesterday we celebrated Easter Sunday, the most important day on the Christian calendar of events. And that makes today, you guessed it, Easter Monday! Have you ever thought of what it must have felt like the day after Jesus rose from the dead? Certainly most people didn’t know what had happened. (It was the two disciples on the road to Emmaus who asked that wonderfully ironic question of Jesus in disguise when He asked them about their mood, “Are you the only one who hasn’t heard what has happened?” They inquired of the only one who actually DID know what had happened! He had risen from the dead!) But it wouldn’t take that long for the word to eke out, at least not by ancient standards. What would it have felt like? Perhaps it would have been a bit like the day after your first child is born and you just can’t get enough time with her. You know that the nights will be long, but something in you wants to poke her just a bit to see if her dark eyes will open again. The day after you have so many questions about this stranger who has infiltrated your life. “Day afters” are usually like that.

How has the “day after” Easter been like for you? Left with any questions?

As I sat in church yesterday my thoughts drifted towards eternity. I often take stock of my feelings about eternity and sometimes I throw in end times and persecution just for good measure. My heart rate didn’t go up much thinking about these things, at least not like it used to, but I have to admit there are times when I just can’t wrap my head around it. I know you can relate. But the thing is, our kids really can’t relate. There is a time when their precious acceptance of all things complicated boils down to a simple, “What do mommy and daddy believe?” and there is a time when simple doesn’t fly any longer. These times will hit different kids at different ages, but for our seven year old that season is apparently upon us. And I would surmise that if he finally asked the question, “How do I know God is real?” out loud, then he had probably been stewing on it by himself for a while. Regardless, a couple weeks ago we found ourselves right in the middle of that conversation. The remarkable thing (to me at least) is that he had already worked out a solution to the dilemma. He said that he would just choose to believe in Jesus even if he wasn’t sure because he figured if he died and God wasn’t real he wouldn’t know any different and if he died and it turns out God was real, he wanted to go to Heaven. My little Pascal! Of course, I don’t want his faith to be an equation of odds and probabilities, but if that’s what is needed to give him assurance for now, that’s all good. I did have an answer for him as well.

I told him that everything he is feeling is totally normal (that alone may have been a weight off). In fact I told him that I had asked that same question, in fact that I STILL ask the question, “Is God real?” But, I told him, I ask it a lot less than when I was younger. Why is that? Simple. The older I get the more evidence I have that Jesus is real. That may seem kind of obvious, but actually it isn’t to a lot of people. Many people when faced with the question of the reality of God don’t actually do the hard work of discovery. I guess I’m fortunate that my curiosity outweighed my laziness because I have done a lot of hard work gathering evidence. I have intellectual answers and experiential answers (both are needed for robust confidence).

I explained this to my son and then gave him an example, I told him that if we got home one evening and our window was broken and the TV was missing we would probably assume someone had stolen it. So I asked him what we could do to find the thief even if there weren’t any eye-witnesses. It took a minute, but using an Adventures In Odyssey story we quickly listed a bunch of keys observations. We could see if there were tracks in the snow from which we could tell how big the thief’s feet were and what the pattern on his soles were. We could also look for pieces of fabric that ripped off when coming in through the window. We would also look for any blood on the glass because that would give us DNA (yes we discussed DNA) and then we could look for someone with a cut on their hands. I asked him if any one piece of evidence was enough, and of course it wasn’t, but taken all together we had a lot of evidence that would help us to catch and identify the thief.

Have you ever wondered how much evidence Jesus needs to give us before we will simply concede that we have a robust case for His existence and that He has prepared a place for us in our eternal home?

But this is the thing, my evidence isn’t as good as your evidence. In other words I had to help my son list off the evidence HE had for the existence of God. I could offer him suggestions, but I couldn’t give him everything, particularly when it comes to experience. Our kids simply need to experience God for themselves! And thankfully my boy has! He was able to think back on times when God felt close, or He answered prayer and stand on that.

What are the questions that come out of Easter for you? What are the questions that your kids have? Do they feel safe telling you what they are?

And can I just add one little thought to end? I’m convinced that all this nonsense that a person’s belief is merely a product of their parent’s beliefs is a big pile of hooey. My son is seven and already asking questions that will either defeat or strengthen his beliefs. He was asking them independent of his parents and I’m glad for it. I’m committed to discovering Truth, which I believe is ultimately found in Jesus Christ – but I’m not afraid of the challenges along the way, not for me or my kids! There, that felt good.

 

eternity

2 Comments on “The Question of Eternity”

  1. Thanks for this encoragement Thom. It is hard for me as more of a learn from experience and feelings based person to answer very in depth philosophical questions from my four year old. I agree with Sheena that we need an apologetics handbook for toddlers for the ill equipped like me.
    At age two he told me the story of David and Goliath was not nice because David hit the giant with a rock and God doesnt like people hurting others, so why was this a good story in the Bible? Lately it has been why is there hell and why do we have to die if we will live forever anyways? Ack.
    I feel encouraged knowing that ultimately Jesus will teach Him as He grows in faith…cause Im sure not very good at it!!

  2. thx for this Thom. I have a five year old that is ready asking questions like this…sometimes he catches me so off guard with the depth of his questions! I feel like I need Apologetics for Five Year Olds, lol! But I’m so thankful he trusts us enough to ask them, knowing he won’t be judged and that questions are good. I know God is preparing his little heart for a fierce love of Him…I just worry sometimes how he will get there. And as a parent, that worry stems from my own mistakes. This was very encouraging to read for those of us with little ones that ask big questions.

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