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July 21, 1999



Fate-filled & faith-filled questions
___This has been the week of "what ifs" for our household.
___We have a 7-year-old who dreams up the worst-case scenarios possible and then asks me questions such as, "Mommy, what if there's a tornado and all our stuff blows away?" or "What if we end up in the jungle like Tarzan's parents and can't build a tree house?"
Alison Wingfield
___Garrett is the worry wart in our family. He comes by it honestly via his father and paternal grandmother. My mother-in-law has made worry into a fine art. We tease her that she even worries about not having anything to worry about.
___No matter what I say to try and help Garrett through his fears, I inevitably end up digging a deeper hole. I try to be honest with him without adding to his fears, but that isn't always easy.
___The topic of tornadoes is the worst. We moved to Texas from Louisville, Ky., which also is a tornado-prone place, but a place where basements are common. Now that we have moved to the shifting soils of Dallas with no basement, both our children are very frightened of tornadoes (as is their mom, who won't admit that to them).
___Garrett keeps probing a little deeper, wanting to know how long tornadoes last and what would happen if someone got sucked up inside one, and what if his blanket and favorite stuffed animals were lost. I know he wants me to assure him that there won't ever be any tornadoes here, but I can't do that. So I keep telling him that the most important thing is for us to be safe, that everything else is replacable and we have to trust God to be with us no matter what happens.
___Which brings us to the latest question: "Why did God make bad things like tornadoes and hurricanes?" I decided to let Mark tackle that one.
___The downside to all these fate-filled questions is they can just drive you crazy because they're impossible to answer. The upside, though, is kids' fate-filled questions also lead to faith-filled questions.
___Though we've been ready to pull our hair out (well, those others in the family who still have
Mark Wingfield
hair) over the impossible-to-answer questions of Garrett and Luke, we've also been challenged to answer some genuinely probing questions about what it means to be a Christian and what it means to "trust" Christ.
___Garrett, otherwise known to us of late as Mr. Doom and Gloom, wanted to knowthe other night what would happen if he died before he made a commitment to Jesus and was baptized.
___Have you ever tried to explain the Baptist doctrine of the age of accountability to a 7-year-old? It's not easy, but we felt driven to somehow calm Garrett's fears while being honest, yet not drive him to a premature decision that wouldn't stick.
___So we talked about God's love for us, about sin and about Jesus being the bridge between our sin and God's love. And we tried to explain our understanding that God does not hold children accountable for a decision they are not yet capable of making. The important thing, we said, is never to choose to reject Jesus.
___"I want to believe in Jesus, and I don't ever not want to believe in him," Garrett responded.
___That helped him finally get to sleep, but it kept us awake pondering the incredible responsibility Christian parents have to teach their children God's ways.
___In reality, being a parent can be scarier than being a kid.

___He Said/She Said is a new regular feature of the Baptist Standard's on-line edition. Mark Wingfield is managing editor of the Standard. Alison Wingfield is a freelance writer. The Wingfields moved to Texas in January from Louisville, Ky., where Mark had been editor of the Western Recorder, in which this column appeared weekly.

PREVIOUS COLUMNS: 6/16, 6/23, 6/30, 7/14

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