How do you explain the flood to a five year old? I woke up this morning having to do just that.
“What if there was another big flood.” asked my curious five year old.
“There won’t be.” I answered lamely.
“But what if.” These what if questions are favorites around our house at the moment. Anything from ‘what if dinosaurs did exist right now…’ to ‘what if I was the princess and you were my puppy…’ The last was a real question posited by my three year old.
I never really know how to answer these questions. If I answer the obvious part of the question I’m stuck saying things like, ‘that would never happen’ or ‘well, I’m a person not an animal.’ But it’s been going on long enough that I know now I need to use my imagination, as a child would. I have to go deep and find a ‘good’ answer for them.
So, the flood question was not unexpected, but I didn’t know if he wanted the Biblical answer or an imagination answer. As usual I went with the Biblical answer. I feel safer that way, my imagination often not being satisfactory to my three and five year old.
“Well,” and I could feel his eyes on me as I thought about how best to answer, “God said there will never again be a world wide flood.” I then went on to explain that there have been some pretty bad floods in different places and that’s sad but there won’t be a world flood. I felt I had to make the distinction in case he happened to see a picture or hear someone talking about the recent devastating floods. I never want him to think me a liar.
“Okay, but what actually happened in Noah’s flood?” I love the way he can always logically reach the next level of a question. However, it makes for some real thinking and scrambling for answers on my part.
I go back to my initial question, how to explain the enormity of the big flood without completely terrifying him. And, how much does he really want to know.
I take a deep breath, “You know God gave everyone a choice, right.” His face is a mirror of mine, a big question mark. “Okay, in the Bible it says that God told Noah he had to destroy the earth, things were just too bad.”
He nods like he gets that part. I get to move on to the next part.
“But God told Noah not to worry because he could save the people, if they obeyed and trusted Him.”
“You know about obeying, right?” It’s been a prevalent subject in our home lately so both he and his sister nodded.
“Then God gave Noah plans, you know, like a map, of how to build a very big boat that would fit lots of people and animals.” They liked this part, we spent some time talking about what animals he would take and how many and what they would eat….
“Did every animal on the whole world fit inside the boat?” He asked at one point.
“No, but a couple of each kind had to go in so they could later have babies.” More nods. Now came the heavy part, why other people didn’t get in.
In my most basic language, what other kind is there, I told them that the whole reason God was destroying the world was because the people didn’t love Him anymore and were destroying it themselves. God wanted to start over fresh. He wanted people to love Him and take care of His beautiful world. When He told Noah to invite everyone into the boat, He wanted them there. He wanted them to love each other again. They said no.
And because they said no, the only ones that made it were Noah, his family, and some very uncomfortable and confused animals (that last part was me using my imagination.) When the flood ended and dried up, what was left was an empty canvas that God could use to make great again. Look at all the wonderful things that have happened since then. I try not to see all the awful things that have gone on since then. But that’s the point isn’t it. The world is not ours forever. Someday, God is going to come back and want to make everything new again and He wants us to trust Him. He wants us on the boat, well, the spiritual boat this time.
Why is it that I always understand the spirit of God’s plans for us after I have explained it to my children? And that’s exactly what happened. I understood.
God always has a plan, we just don’t get it. And we may not get His plan until He comes back and sits us down and explains it to us like children, like His children. The trick here, the thing that I have to explain to my children daily, is trust. Trust me to tell you these Bible stories now so that someday you can understand the spirit of it. Trust God to show you His plan, if not today then someday when you are with Him, can see His face clearly, can get it, finally get it.