“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue.”
— Rainer Maria Rilke
As Americans, we are hard-wired to believe that we should have all the answers, and if we do not have the right answers, we should find them as soon as possible. This value in being correct is important for many reasons. I don’t want engineers guessing on the braking system in my vehicle, nor do I want a doctor cutting me open to do some procedure and say, “Oh, well, that is close enough; nobody is perfect!”
Perhaps more important for our lives, though, is not the answers that we find, but the questions that we ask. It is the questions that lead us to seek the true, the right and the just. It is the questions that we ask ourselves — especially when we ask healthy questions — that drive us to grow, that force us to confront and seek help to overcome the hidden lies that sabotage us and that determine the kind of story that we will write with our days.
Interestingly, Jesus asked a lot of questions in the Bible. J. R. Briggs, a Christian leader who spends a lot of time speaking about church transformation and spiritual formation, says that Jesus asked over 300 questions. Sometimes they were simple ones like, “Who do you say I am?” and sometimes they were heart-wrenching ones like, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Jesus was asked around 180 questions. Most of those questions he answered indirectly, sometimes answering a question with a question.
Questions engage our imagination. They encourage us to seek. They call us into a journey to find the truth. Often in that journey, we discover that the truths we seek are found through relationships, through living and trusting in the midst of the uncertainty of life, and in the faithfulness of God.
Questions demonstrate interest and love. Through asking about others, we learn who they are and what they are about. Good questions will keep us from talking about ourselves all the time.
Questions keep us humble. They help us to keep learning. They help us to better serve God, love others, and engage the world around us for God’s kingdom.
I know there are questions in your heart. Keep asking God questions in prayer. Continue asking friends, colleagues, co-workers and fellow disciples of Jesus questions that help you know them and help you grow as a person and as a follower of Jesus. Keep asking yourself the hard questions that keep you honest, and prevent your life from becoming defined by self-deception and inauthenticity.
The Rev. Clint Walker
First Baptist Church