Every Wednesday I get a few minutes with the children of our Preschool and Kindergarten. Today I shared about helium and a lesson about God that it can help us understand. I got this idea from our Children’s Minister.
It is a simple object lesson: we cannot see the helium, but we can see what what the helium does, like we can see and experience things God does though we cannot see God. Simple, right?
Not so simple if I have enough time to think about it. The polka-dot balloon is the one I bought this morning to illustrate my point. the solid red balloon is the one that provided the same illustration yesterday.
Whatever affects the helium had on that balloon yesterday are all but gone today.
So, just how much like helium is God?
As it turns out, not all that much.
This does not make it a bad object lesson for children. This merely is a clear, straightforward illustration of what happens with every analogy we use to understand, explain, illustrate, etc., God.
While I do not make nearly as many absolute statements as I used to, I will make and stand by this one: EVERY analogy we use for God is limited.
This is true not only for the analogies we use to try to explain God to children (or youth, or adults, or people from another culture), but also of every single thought we think or word we use referring to God.
Let’s face it: if God could indeed be captured by your words or my thoughts, that God would not be much of a God, now would he?
Don’t worry; I did not lay all of this discussion of the limits of analogy on those 3-5 year old children.
I decided to share it here, though, because I believe we are all better off realizing that there are limits to our understanding and expression of said understanding, of God. I believe also that the more aware we are of our own limitations, the more open we can be in learning from the analogies other people use.