Confession 408: Ask Away–40 Days of Decrease

I am the LORD!  There is nothing too difficult for me. Genesis 18:14 (CEB)

girl on swing

When I was a kid, I asked a lot of questions.  My mom recalls a memorable experience seeing Disney’s Sleeping Beauty in a theater where, at the age of two, I very loudly demanded to know a plethora of things.  Important things like, “Why is the dragon purple?  Why is her dress pink?  Why is the prince riding a horse?”

My parents were professional educators, so they didn’t discourage my questioning–even when it drove them crazy.  Now, I have two children of my own who question everything.  I find I have a new appreciation for the amount of self-discipline and control my parents must have had not to ban me from speaking until I was eighteen.

And, although it’s incredibly annoying to have your ten year old constantly ask you if you’re driving the speed limit whenever you hit the highway, questions are (by and large) good things.  Questions lead to knowledge, to new understandings and perspectives, to a greater appreciation for the world and the people within it.  Questions also lead us into a deeper relationship with God.

girl on swing 2

There’s a fallacy among some religious people that questioning God is sinful.  I think this idea is born out of the great fear we humans have with uncertainty.  Many of us struggle with the concept of holy mystery. We can’t handle the complexity of God’s great all-encompassing love coupled with the reality of the ramifications of free will and human suffering.   When tragedy strikes, it’s more comfortable to say “Well, it’s God’s will” rather than “What the —-?”

The truth is, our desperate cry of “Why would you let this happen?” draws us much closer to the heart of God than an apathetic response of, “Okay…whatever…”  Accepting without question doesn’t engage in a conversation.  It doesn’t open the door for a relationship; instead, it shuts the door in God’s face.  Ignoring the questions in our hearts only serves to weaken our faith because we deny ourselves an opportunity to speak to God openly and honestly.

choleIn 40 Days of Decrease, Alicia Britt Chole refers to our process of trying to rationalize God’s ways as a means of fixing faith.  She writes:

The church in general panics when miracles miscarry.  We scurry clumsily to prop up God’s sagging reputation.  There must have been a problem, we offer.  God must have something even better around the corner, we propose.  Must He?  (pg. 34)

In her challenge to fast “fixing it”, Chole acknowledges the need for questions in our faith.        When we fast “fixing it” we allow ourselves to become children once again, running to the great Parent with questions, fears, disappointments, anger and broken hearts.  And God, the great Parent, welcomes us with open arms.  He listens to our questions.  He understands our fears and disappointments.  He accepts our anger and he grieves our broken hearts.  God is our safe place–our refuge in times of trouble. (Psalm 18:2)

That is not to say God will provide an answer to all our questions.  How could he when there is so much at work in this world that is way beyond our understanding.  But God wants us to ask the questions, because he wants to be in a relationship with us.

As a parent, it’s important to me that my children know they can always come to me with any questions.  I don’t answer all of them, sometimes because I don’t know the answer and sometimes because they’re not ready to hear it.  However, in listening to their questions and responding in love, I’m teaching my children (I hope!) that Mama is a safe place for them to come and lay their burdens down.  And, as their questions get bigger and harder, I’m hopeful that my willingness to engage in their questions will teach my boys that they don’t have to hide anything from me–that when they are with me they are free to be themselves,even if it’s not always pretty, because I love them.

If you’re like me, you have a lot of questions for God.  Some days those questions are born out of mere curiosity.  Other days the questions come from a deep place of hurt or anger.  Whatever questions of faith you have today, I would encourage you to bring them before God.  Lay them down at his feet and let him be your safe place.

Blessings and Peace,