Several months ago, I was having a conversation with my oldest son at bedtime that turned into a conversation about Jesus that I’ll never forget. Now, this is not the usual flow of our family devotions - most of the time it involves somersaults and arguing and hitting and an occasional prayer. This time was not one of those occasions and my son prompted our conversation by asking, “Daddy, why is Jesus invisible?”
My son has always had a way with questions and observations about Jesus and being the theology-nerd, pastor that I am - I climbed up to his bed to start talking. “Well, Jesus is invisible, but he’s here. He’s with us and he’s in our hearts.”
He wasn’t satisfied. He wanted to see Jesus.
So I turned to when we will see Jesus visibly again - the end of the world. His reaction wasn’t what I was hoping for. The end of the world wasn’t good news for a toddler (or for that matter, it’s not really exciting to most people). The idea of the world ending, for my son, meant an end to most of the things he cares about - fun, toys, family, and friends.
I back-paddled. “No, no, no… it’s not like that. When Jesus comes back that doesn’t mean we are all gone, only the bad stuff goes away.”
At that moment, we were talking about a pretty big theological concept in five-year old language. This is what the Bible describes as the restoration of God's creation. It's the promise of the resurrection that we look forward to. It's what comes after heaven - Jesus returns and all the dead are raised, all creation is restored, and heaven comes to earth.
We continued, “You know how sometimes you have sad days? When Jesus comes back, those days are going to be gone.” I assured him there will be a day when bad dreams are gone - even bed times won’t be necessary.
His initial fear turned to a smile.
He had another important question, “What about working days?” For my son, if I have to work - it’s really not as good as it could be. So I ran with it and said, “No more working days!” That prompted giggles of joy as he imagined the endless days of playing and no more bedtimes. I described what that day will be like, Jesus coming down from the clouds in order to make all the sad things come untrue.
Which led to another question, “Where will we live?”
I pulled out my experience with far too much Christian music in the 90s by saying, “There will be a big, big house with lots and lots of rooms," which comes from the words of Jesus when he says, “My Father's house has many rooms.”
The giggles became more frequent as he imagined the house and asked, “Can I have a sleep over?” And knowing exactly who he was referencing, I could assure him they'd be enjoying this new creation, endless playing days, and a house bigger than we could imagine. Mommy and daddy would be there. His best friends would be there. His sisters would be there. I told him, “Everybody who loves Jesus will be there with us.”
And then, in the midst of the giggles and joy, he looked me in the eye and said, “Go tell Mommy. We need to tell everyone.”