If you could get God’s answer to one question, what would it be?
Not that God is a genie, but I think there are three kinds of questions that God gets asked all the time:
The wisdom question
When we’re asking for insight into how to live our lives. What should I do? How should I do it? When? Who should I include? James 1:6 promises us that when we ask God that question, he’ll always answer with what we need. God answers those cries “without finding fault” (without exception). So ask away. The promise of scripture is that you will always have enough insight (if you seek it) to be able to take your next step. Sometimes I forget that. How about you?
The “why” question
People ask God this question after a tragedy rips the guts out their family or they lose their job, that kind of thing. This one’s a bit tricky. For one thing, we wouldn’t always like the answer. Secondly, many times the ‘why’ involves so many variables that we wouldn’t understand how they fit together even if God could find the words for it. Third, I think sometimes his answer is called “hindsight.” And fourth, a mother who lost her child and asks “Why, God?” doesn’t really want the answer to that question, does she? What she wants is having her child back.
I’m not saying God never answers this question, because sometimes he does. I’m saying that the answer is almost always partial and it rarely satisfies anyway. Years ago I asked God why I burned out and he told me that I had to learn this (even good things can be overdone and that I need to seek his counsel about everything). Not a complete answer, but I accept the truth I was given, however partial it was.
The future question
“What’s going to happen next? How is this going to turn out?” This is a prophetic question. And God does sometimes answer prophetic questions. I can think of a few times that’s happened to me. But this one is like the why question. When God doesn’t answer it, I think he’s saying, “You don’t want to know.” In many cases we’re better off knowing things one step at a time as they unfold.
Would Shauna have gone on that first date with me if she knew it would lead to marriage, that I’d become a Youth pastor, move to rural Winkler, then to steroidal Calgary, then become a Lead pastor, then step out as a church planter when our kids were teenagers? I hope so, but maybe not. I think God only answers this kind of question if it’s going to help us rise into his call, in which case it’s a version of the wisdom question.
I can think of a couple more of these, so I’ll continue this tomorrow.