LET'M ASK! Maria #132 DO 2650 5/90
--A Lesson on "Explain, Explain, Explain!"--By Maria
1. I would never want the kids to feel that I'm closed off to any questions they may have.--Even questions that we might interpret as doubts! That's the way children learn things, by asking questions! I've almost been shocked at some of the things children don't understand, simple little things that you'd expect them to understand, but they don't. Often they just don't know the reasons for things.
2. So when they have questions about something, it's very important that they feel free to ask. Most of their questions have reasonable answers, & when you answer people's questions, they learn something from it.--Then they can help teach others who may have similar questions.
3. The Lord doesn't expect us to take everything by faith. Usually the only things we have to accept by faith alone are the things that don't have any visible or obvious answers, or things that we don't yet know the answers to. So it's important to let children feel free to ask you questions, & for you to not be afraid of them asking questions. All questions have some kind of a good answer, & even if you don't know the answer, the Lord can give you a good answer for them!
4. I'm really sold on encouraging people to ask questions! I think people should ask questions! The Lord always has some kind of answer, & it's much better when people can get their questions answered. I am not, nor is Dad, an advocate of making people accept things "by faith" if there's a logical answer that you can easily give them.
5. If there's something you can say to explain things to them, I think you ought to explain things to them! They'll learn something that way, & they'll then be able to help others along the same lines. That experience of asking you their questions & receiving your answers can help them have more faith when similar situations come up in the future.
6. Of course, if it's something that they do need to accept by faith, or something that you don't have an answer for, or it's an emergency situation & you don't have time to explain things or answer them, then that's another story entirely & they should be able to understand that. But I don't think it's right to always be encouraging people to just take things by faith if there's any kind of answer or reason or explanation for the thing that they're questioning. I think people should be given reasons!
7. That's why we've put such an emphasis on our "explain, explain" policy!--Explain why you wear a red scarf around your neck! Explain why you wear sunglasses even though it's a cloudy day! Hopefully there's a good reason. If somebody sees you taking an aspirin, explain, "Well, I don't take aspirin all the time, but in this particular situation because of this & that, I felt led to take one."
8. Or maybe you're unusually brief or curt with someone who's asking you a question. If you explain to them why you're somewhat hurried, "Sorry to be so brief, but I'm running late already for an appointment with So-&-so," they'll be much more understanding & much less likely to take it personally. Or if someone puts you "on the spot" with a question that you don't know the answer to off hand, if you sweetly explain, "Sorry I can't answer that right now, but I'd feel a lot better if I took some time to pray about it first," at least they'll know you're concerned & want to try to answer them, even though you didn't answer them yet.
9. Or perhaps someone asks you to stand in a gap that has suddenly opened on the Home schedule. If your initial response was uncertain or unenthusiastic because you'd already committed yourself to some other task, so weren't quite sure what to do, it would help them understand if you explained your hesitation: "I'd be happy to fill So-&-so's dish slot tonight, but I've already agreed to take the younger children for story time." Or if someone's missing from your morning devotions, & you're their Shepherd & you know why, it would probably be helpful to explain to others, "John is sleeping in this morning because he needed to stay up late last night to finish up our monthly Home stats, GBH!"
10. It's important to explain things to people! That's why we've been trying to promote the "explain, explain, explain" policy to our leaders! I just don't believe in telling people, "Ok, you just need to accept all this by faith!" I don't think they should have to do that unless you actually can't see a good "logical" reason for something, & you're simply obeying the Lord or His Word!
11. Sometimes, that may be the best explanation you have to offer. Look at Abraham: "He went out not knowing whither he went!"--Heb.11:8. If someone had asked him, "Hey, where are you going?" he would have had to honestly reply, "I don't know!"--Of course, if they'd asked him, "Why?" he could tell them, "`Cause the Lord told me to get going!"
12. There's always a good reason of some kind. Of course, sometimes you might not know what it is because the Lord hasn't shown you yet. Sometimes something supposedly "bad" happens & you don't yet know why the Lord allowed it, so you may not have an immediate explanation for it.--At least not yet! But even then you can surmise or conclude that, "Well, maybe the Lord did it for this reason or maybe it was for that reason," & look for some good positive answers that could be the reason why the Lord allowed it.
13. For example, if your vehicle suddenly irreparably breaks down & it just doesn't look like there was any good reason for it to happen, you could be positive about it & say, "Obviously the Lord wants us to get another better vehicle!"--Ha! If your vehicle breaks down so badly that it's completely useless, there is a pretty strong possibility that the Lord wants you to get a different vehicle!--Or take public transport!
14. Or if there is a constant tropical downpour for a month with flooding & landslides, & you're unable to go out witnessing, there's probably a good reason for it! Even if you don't know what it is for sure, you can suggest some reasons to anyone who questions it: "Maybe the Lord's keeping us closed in here so we'll really get into the Word! Maybe we need the Word right now more than we even need to witness & raise funds, & if so, the Lord will still support us somehow!"
15. You shouldn't just answer people with, "The Lord did it, so we just need to accept it." You should take it a step further & ask the Lord why. We've always tried to teach people to ask the Lord, "Why did this happen?" We've always tried to encourage people to ask questions & seek the Lord for His answers: "Lord, why did You allow such-&-such? What are You trying to show us through this situation?"
16. If we agree that when something happens to us adults--either good or "bad"--that we should ask the Lord about it, then why shouldn't we apply this same principle to our children & allow them to ask us questions: "Mommy, I don't understand this!--It seems sort of crazy to me!" or, "Daddy, this seems wrong to me, I don't understand why it happened." In principle, what's the difference between allowing our children to ask us such questions, & our asking the Lord about things?
17. (Family: It's also important that we have the right attitude whenever we ask the Lord, "Why?") Yes, there can be a difference in people's attitude. We certainly don't want ourselves or our children to have a murmuring or critical attitude of, "Well, Lord, You've been pretty bad to me!--Why me?--Why did You let it happen to me?"
18. But even if their attitude isn't quite right, I still think children should be answered.--Of course, we should encourage them to ask questions with the right attitude & in the right spirit! But even if they have the wrong attitude, we should still do our best to try to explain things to them. If you're careful & prayerful & asking the Lord for wisdom as you explain things to them, that in itself might correct their attitude.
19. I'm all for asking questions! I just don't think people should "wrap things up in a bundle of faith" unless it's absolutely necessary! Just today one of our girls said something to me about "just taking it by faith," & I said, "Don't take it by faith unless you have to! If you can ask me & get the answers, don't struggle with it, trying to `take it by faith!'" Why should you have to just worry & wonder about things, trying to take it by faith if you can ask somebody & get the answers you need?
20. I agree, your attitude when questioning something is very important, & it's something that the Lord definitely looks on. If your attitude is bad, then He may not bless you as much as He would if your heart was right. But I think the Lord often has mercy on us, & even when we ask things with the wrong attitude, He's still very patient & understanding & merciful, like a loving parent should be, & He still shows us the answer.--Regardless of whether we ask Him questions with the best attitude or not. Even when we ask, "Lord, why did You ever let this happen to me?--How terrible of You!"--He still very sweetly & lovingly shows us the answer, "It happened for your good."
21. If one of our kids were to say something like, "Boy, Grandpa, I don't know if I understand or agree with your decision on that," Dad wouldn't just slap them down & say, "Well, you don't have to agree, that's my decision!" He would explain it to them. He would sit down & explain it to them, probably two or three times, so hopefully the child would understand & then agree. (Although our children would not openly voice a question like this to Dad in such a disrespectful way, on occasion their attitude is questioning.--At which times Dad patiently & lovingly explains things to them, & almost always manages to win their agreement & cooperation.)
22. A loving father doesn't just say, "So what?--You don't have to agree with me! That's my decision & that's enough said, you just go along with it!" But the picture of a loving father is one who tries to help the child to understand.--Even if the child is upset & rebellious & contrary & doesn't agree, he'll try to help him & explain things to him until he hopefully does agree.--Or at least until he understands.
23. As parents & teachers & Shepherds, we should all try to do the same. You may not always succeed in it, because sometimes the child is rebellious & will continue to be rebellious & they may still not "want the books." But you've got to try to help them understand anyway, even if they won't agree. You can't just say, "Well, you have such a bad attitude now, I'm not even going to try to answer or explain things to you!" Maybe that's why they have a bad attitude, because they honestly don't understand. But a good parent or teacher will sit down with them & will try to get them to understand.--Amen? Remember, "Explain, explain, explain!" GBY!
Copyright (c) 1998 by The Family