It was refreshing to see an article in a recent issue of Parents magazine on the subject ''Children and God.'' It's encouraging to learn there are parents who sincerely strive to answer questions their children ask about God. And children do ask about God!
When our daughter was seven, I received a note from her teacher. Much to my surprise it was not about the child's schoolwook. ''The other day,'' the teacher wrote, ''your daughter asked me, 'What is God?' I must admit I've never been asked that question before, and I could tell that my explanation didn't satisfy her. She was so earnest I thought you should know.''
My explanations had not satisfied her either, or she would not have asked her teacher. But not long afterward I was able to answer her question. Someone introduced me to Christian Science, loaned me a copy of the textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, and urged me to turn to page 465.
I was amazed to see this question: ''What is God?'' Following it, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, answers, ''God is incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle, Life, Truth, Love.''
Now I had an explanation that would satisfy my child's innate spiritual sense that God was more than a supernatural Being, unknowable and unreachable. Moreover, this explanation confirmed feelings about God I had had myself all my life. The child in me found answers to questions that no one had been able to explain to my satisfaction.
For instance, the opening sentence in the first chapter of Science and Health reads, ''The prayer that reforms the sinner and heals the sick is an absolute faith that all things are possible to God, - a spiritual understanding of Him, an unselfed love.'' n1 My innate spiritual sense assured me that all things are possible to God. I had even had healings through prayer. But I wanted to know more about God. That was the ''spiritual understanding'' I needed. And I was certain God would enable me to express ''unselfed love'' if I willingly obeyed Him.
n1 Science and Health, p. 1.
In the chapter in Science and Health called ''Genesis'' I found that Christian Science accepts the account in the first chapter of the Bible as showing the truth of creation, in which everything God made is good, including man, His image. This is a fundamental point in Christian Science. It made sense to me because I knew that Jesus had said, ''God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.'' n2
n2 John 4:24.
There was more, of course, much more. I studied for hours day after day, andthe most wonderful things began to happen. Dispositions changed. Harmony prevailed. Some physical ailments were quickly healed. Our income increased. Yet none of these improvements compared to the understanding of God I was gaining.
Gradually, the Master's ministry took on greater significance. I began to see that Jesus was showing us that man is never matter-bound, or even heaven-bound. He's already in the kingdom of heaven because he's always the beloved child of God. It's our task to follow Jesus' example and prove this by putting off the mortal, material sense of life for the spiritual and eternal. This is to be done daily and hourly, not just in some afterlife.
''The kingdom of God is within you,'' n3 Jesus declared. Because it is within each one of us, in our true consciousness, which expresses the one Mind, God, parents can experience a special joy when they tell their children about God. Personal opinions, prejudices, and superstitions have to be set aside. Children need help in overcoming childish fears. They need to hear that God is Love, and Life itself, the one creative Mind, and that He is ever-present Spirit, filling all space. Most of all, they need to know their true identity - that they are, in their true being, the cherished offspring of a loving Father-Mother God.n3
n3 Luke 17:21.
DAILY BIBLE VERSE Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for such is the kingdom of God. Luke 18:16