Several years ago our grandson came home from Sunday school with some questions on his mind. He said to his mom, our daughter, “I don’t get this stuff about the Father, the Son and Andy.”
“Who?” Kristin responded. “Who’s Andy?”
“That’s what I’m asking you,” Reilly pointed out.
Kristin tried unsuccessfully to get more clues out of Reilly, and finally succeeded later in the week when she overheard him singing one of the old hymns of the church, part of the Sunday school’s program to teach kids the basics of the Christian faith. He was singing, “In the Garden,” and the chorus of his version was, “Andy walks with me, Andy talks with me, Andy tells me I am his own….”
Reilly had apparently used six-year-old logic to come up with the names of the Trinity. The Father and Son were concepts he could at least relate to, and he knew their names: God and Jesus. But Spirit is a more elusive concept for a child, so he figured that must be the one called Andy. It still didn’t make much sense.
It reminds me of the story of the Japanese gentleman who was trying to understand Christianity. He remarked to his American friend, “Honorable Father I understand; Honorable Son I understand; Honorable Bird I do not understand.”
Many of us struggle to understand Honorable Bird. The concepts of the Trinity and its most mysterious member, the Holy Spirit, don’t fit easily in the brain. And the Bible doesn’t give us clear logical definitions.
It does, however, give us images and stories, and that’s where I begin to see “with my eyes of my heart.” Images such as breath of God, wind, still small voice, flowing water, and the picture of the Spirit hovering over the dark chaos in the beginning of time, waiting for the Father to whisper, “Light”—these draw me to the third person of the Trinity more than any doctrinal statements could do. Intuitively, I begin to understand.
Reilly got part of the picture right. Children frequently do. The Holy Spirit seems to be that aspect of God that “walks with us and talks with us and tells us we are his own.”
And whatever we call him (or her), including Andy the Honorable Bird, or the Holy Ghost, the Spirit personally draws us into the presence and reality of God. Then words and labels and definitions cease to matter. Life touches Life and we walk free as a child in the winds of grace.