Please state your answer
in the form of a question.
Do you ever want a conversation with Jesus that goes something like this;
You – “Jesus, I know there is probably a lot of other factors involved here and some things I may be missing but I am going to ask you a question and I just need a simple answer to this one question. Ok?”
Jesus –“ Ok.”
You – “Should I take it or should I leave it?” (or fill in the blanks to fit your situation)
Jesus – “Let me ask you a question. Is ……”
You – “No. Jesus stop. I said I need a simple answer to this question.”
Jesus – “I gave you a simple answer to your one question. I said, ‘ok’ and now I am answering your second question.”
Jesus is always asking questions. And many times he was answering questions by asking questions? And often Jesus asked questions that would prompt his listeners to ask a question that Jesus could respond to by asking another question. And somewhere in there is an answer, sometimes fast and sometimes much more slowly.
Frederick Buechner offers this advice about Scripture: “Don’t start looking in the Bible for the answers it gives. Start by listening for the questions it asks.” The same principle should be applied to every part of our spiritual life. The questions God asks are not for his benefit or to add to his knowledge.
Let me give a personal example. Last week one of my children asked me to help them with their piano practicing. “Can you help me with this song?” was the question. The answer was, “What note does it start on?” The reply was, “I don’t know that’s why i want you to help me.” To which I replied again, “What notes does it start on?” It was then that my dear child finally got the music out and looked at the notes on the page and used his/her developed note reading skills to figure out where to start from.
I learned something about God in that moment. God can help me learn the song. And he will start by asking me a question – What note does it start on?
Here are some examples of God question which speak powerfully to the wisdom of Buechner’s advice:
“Where are you? (Genesis 3:9)
“Where is your brother Abel?” (Genesis 4:9)
“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? (Job 38:4)
“What did you go out into the desert to see?” (Matthew 11:8)
“How many loaves do you have?” (Matthew 15:34)
“What are you looking for?” (John 1:38)
“Do you want to get well?” (John 5:6)
“What is truth?” (John 18:38)
Buechner goes on to say this: “When you hear the question that is your question. Whether you can accept the Bible’s answer or not, you have reached the point where at least you can begin to hear.”