“Question for you,” my husband or I will say to one another. Or it may even come from someone else. A child. A parent. A friend. A church member.
“Answer for you,” comes the inevitable response. At least, we hope there’s an answer.
There’s something incredibly satisfying about being confident in our ability to answer a question. It means we’re knowledgeable about something (always a confidence booster), able to make a decision (extremely edifying for those of us who struggle to make decisions), or able to be of help to someone (Who doesn’t enjoy that?).
Of course, when we are the ones with the questions, we also want the answers to be forthcoming. Typically when I ask a question of my husband or children or anyone else, I might not need an answer immediately. But I definitely want them to ponder, evaluate, consider, research, explore, or whatever and get back with me at some point. We ask questions because, ultimately, we want answers.
And this is where spiritual growth gets tricky. Because sometimes we ask questions that only God can answer. And many times it feels that He is a little vague or dodgy with the answer.
I can’t read Scripture without clearly seeing the number of times God’s clear answers were delayed or obscured in some way. And when He was clear and quick, it was often in discipline, not in response to the heart cries of a truly searching servant. From Job to Abraham to Joseph to the prophets to the disciples to Paul, there is incident after incident of God requiring His servants to wait. To trust. To learn slowly.
This truth is clear in my own life as well. I look at what I know now and see how much of it has come, not from beautiful moments of quick illumination, but from long and hard study. From waiting. From asking question after question after question, layering one on top of the other until I don’t really remember where I started—I just know that the search never seems to end.
Reading what I just wrote makes the process seem so very daunting. Completely overwhelming. And not at all reassuring. Can we really be motivated to ask if one request seems to pile into many? If the answers never seem clear and forthcoming?
Yes. Yes, we can. And here’s why. First, Jesus told us to ask. (See Matthew 7 or Luke 11. Or go back even further to see God’s instruction to Solomon in 1 Kings 3.) That’s reason enough.
But there’s more. If we really stop and look both through Scripture and our own lives, we see that there is so much more to God’s provision and work in us than just straightforward answers. He works truth. He works understanding. He works growth. He works His will. He works Himself into our lives. And through the process, though it may take so much longer than we care to endure, we do receive those answers. But when they come, they come with fullness of life and with meaning and with purpose instead of just as simple answers to questions. They answer much more than we could ever have imagined.
More often than not, my journal holds questions without answers. The beginning of yet another search, even as I am still in the middle of older searches. Even as I continue to journal through previous questions that have only received partial answers. Clues lead me to the next step, but the old questions seem unending. The new questions seem unanswerable.
But, I have learned to go ahead and ask them. To go ahead and write down the questions that I know will not be answered today. Or tomorrow. Probably even this year. Maybe even this decade. But they still must be asked. Because the journey to the answer means more than the answer itself. The journey points me to Christ. The ultimate Answer. And the more I ask, the more I get to know Him.
Seems like incredible motivation to me.