Tag Archives: questions

The Most Important Question

There are some questions that are life-changing, they take our lives from one course and head them into another.  When Mr Pamspermbulation asked me to me to marry him was one of those occasions.  I had to make a fundamental decision about what I thought of him.  Did I love him, trust him, could I spend the rest of my life with him, working together with one purpose, growing and nurturing the life ahead we were committing to?  Important questions.

Our relationship with God is a similarly life-changing question.  The answer a life-long commitment.

What I think of Jesus, who and what I believe him to be is The Most Important Question, because my answer to that should effect my whole life.  If I believe he is God, and come to show God and his ways to us, then that should inform every part of my life – how I act, how I treat others, what I say and do, where I see God, how I listen and respond to him.  All are founded in and on what I believe about Jesus – and through him God.

Jesus asks, not what others are saying, what they think, what we’ve heard, but what I think, what I believe, and perhaps more importantly – what I am going to do about it.

Jesus is inviting the disciples to a journey of commitment and all that involves.  He makes the same invitation to you and I.  There will be some astoundingly awesome mountain top experiences, but there will be some dark and difficult times too.  That is what walking with someone else involves.  Jesus knew more than most about suffering.  Following him was not, and is not, the easy choice, the soft option; it has elements of pain, despair and rejection.  There will be some very dark times, Jesus wants all who may join him to be clear about what they are getting in to.

Choosing God is not about having your own way, it is about having his way and looking out for the good of others, putting them before ourselves, that the world may flourish.  But what we will get back if we live that way will be immense.  In God’s ways, we will always get back waaaaaay more than we give.

But it’s a choice.

What do you think about God?  What do I?

And how is the answer to that question going to affect my life, the way I look at others and the way I live.

Lord,
you ask me what I think of you
and you wait
patiently
for my answer,
as I work out
what you mean in my life,
if I can trust,
follow
and work with you.

But you are not looking for empty words,
a vague commitment,
an empty promise,
you want to see how my decision
works out in my life,
in my dealings with others,
and my love of you.

You invite me on a journey,
a journey of life,
of ups and downs,
of cost and commitment,
of promise and hope.

So today,
I come before you
and give you my answer
to The Most Important Question,
follow you
and invite you
to work through my life

You are the Christ

Mark 8:27-38 (CEV)

Who Is Jesus?

27 Jesus and his disciples went to the villages near the town of Caesarea Philippi. As they were walking along, he asked them, “What do people say about me?”

28 The disciples answered, “Some say you are John the Baptist or maybe Elijah. Others say you are one of the prophets.”

29 Then Jesus asked them, “But who do you say I am?”

“You are the Messiah!” Peter replied.

30 Jesus warned the disciples not to tell anyone about him.

Jesus Speaks about His Suffering and Death

31 Jesus began telling his disciples what would happen to him. He said, “The nation’s leaders, the chief priests, and the teachers of the Law of Moses will make the Son of Man suffer terribly. He will be rejected and killed, but three days later he will rise to life.” 32 Then Jesus explained clearly what he meant.

Peter took Jesus aside and told him to stop talking like that. 33 But when Jesus turned and saw the disciples, he corrected Peter. He said to him, “Satan, get away from me! You are thinking like everyone else and not like God.”

34 Jesus then told the crowd and the disciples to come closer, and he said:

If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself. You must take up your cross and follow me. 35 If you want to save your life, you will destroy it. But if you give up your life for me and for the good news, you will save it. 36 What will you gain, if you own the whole world but destroy yourself? 37 What could you give to get back your soul?

38 Don’t be ashamed of me and my message among these unfaithful and sinful people! If you are, the Son of Man will be ashamed of you when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.

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Pouring Your Heart Out

Do we think we shouldn’t question God?  Have no right to ask him what he’s doing?  Think we shouldn’t moan to him about our lot, because it “is”?

Habakkuk had no such worries – and because he asked, God answered him, which gave him peace.

Habakkuk 1:1-4

I am Habakkuk the prophet. And this is the message that the Lord gave me.

Habakkuk Complains to the Lord

Our Lord, how long must I beg
for your help

    before you listen?
How long before you save us
    from all this violence?
Why do you make me watch
    such terrible injustice?
Why do you allow violence,
lawlessness,
crime, and cruelty
    to spread everywhere?
Laws cannot be enforced;
    justice is always the loser;
criminals crowd out honest people
    and twist the laws around.

The Lord Answers Habakkuk Again

While standing guard
    on the watchtower,
I waited for the Lord’s answer,
before explaining the reason
    for my complaint.
Then the Lord told me:
“I will give you my message
    in the form of a vision.
Write it clearly enough
    to be read at a glance.
At the time I have decided,
    my words will come true.
You can trust what I say
    about the future.
It may take a long time,
but keep on waiting—
    it will happen!

“I, the Lord, refuse to accept
    anyone who is proud.
Only those who live by faith
    are acceptable to me.”

I may have mentioned before how much I love Habakkuk.  Discovering this book kept me sane for a long time when (almost) my whole world was falling apart.

In fact, having gone back and read it again, I’m going to repeat what I said three years ago, because it still very much holds true:

I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a list of questions I want to ask God when I get to meet him.

I think that’s why I love the book of Habakkuk.  Habakkuk is a man not afraid to ask difficult questions of God.

He sees the injustice in the world.  That evil people prosper, and the honest struggle.

He asks God, “How long?”  How long until you answer my questions, how long until you do something?  How long until the law and justice find their place in the world again?

God answers Habakkuk – the time is coming.  The world will be sorted out, but it may seem like a long time to us.  We may yet have times of questioning to come.

Sometimes we think we shouldn’t question God – that he is almighty, and knows what he is doing.  That’s the very reason why we should ask him!  We know that questioning is a good learning tool, so why not ask questions of God, if it is what is really on our heart – because that is what God longs to hear – what is on our heart.

If we don’t get the answer to our prayers that we want to, do we give up?  Are we faithful in prayer, bringing situations to God, and waiting for him to deal with them?  The life of faith may require continuing belief, long after reason and knowledge have been exhausted.  But it is right faith, because God is a faithful God.

Life is full of unanswered questions – for now.  One day it will all make sense to us, because we will see the full picture when God reveals it.

The best thing about Habakkuk for me is he learns to live with the questions.  Habakkuk’s faith, though tested, is not broken.  His faith, his experience of God, is that God will answer.  God is watching – his answer – “Wait – for God’s time”.

His book ends with these words:

Fig trees may no longer bloom,
or vineyards produce grapes;
olive trees may be fruitless,
and harvest time a failure;
sheep pens may be empty,
and cattle stalls vacant–but I will still celebrate
because the LORD God
saves me.
The LORD gives me strength.
He makes my feet as sure
as those of a deer,
and he helps me stand on the mountains.

Even though, even though all these things are still happening, we can trust that God is in ultimate control.  All may not yet be right with the world, but God continues to hold us and gives us the strength we need.  Habakkuk found a way to live with not always having answers, but finding something in that, and still being able to cling on because of his faith in God, when everything else had left him.

We might only be hanging on by our fingertips, but God is hanging on to us.

To quote that old saying,

We may not know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future

God is with us in the mess and the pain.

So let’s pray.  Lets wait on God.  And let’s share with the world what God says.


Don’t be afraid to pour your heart out to God, to ask him questions.  It shows you care.  And God will answer.

Thank you Lord
that you are someone we can always talk to,
always share the truth of our emotions with;
that you don’t recoil
and are not shocked by our audacity.
Thank you that you want to know the truth of our feelings
and can deal with it.

So today,
I bring you my questions,
my anger,
my fear
– knowing that you can take it,
hold it
and hold me.

Thank you
that though the way may not seem obvious,
that we may not be able to see even the light at the end of the tunnel,
even though life throws its worst at us
You are still God,
you love me,
you hold me tight
and help me to stand against the storms.

 

Nonsense

Photo by Filippo Minelli http://www.flickr.com/photos/filippominelli/

 

It doesn’t make any sense…

A lack of understanding.  A failure to grasp.  How absurd.  I don’t get it…

Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14; 2:18-23

Nothing makes sense!
Everything is nonsense.
    I have seen it all—
    nothing makes sense!

It Is Senseless To Be Wise

12 I said these things when I lived in Jerusalem as king of Israel. 13 With all my wisdom I tried to understand everything that happens here on earth. And God has made this so hard for us humans to do. 14 I have seen it all, and everything is just as senseless as chasing the wind.

2

18 Suddenly I realized that others would someday get everything I had worked for so hard, then I started hating it all. 19 Who knows if those people will be sensible or stupid? Either way, they will own everything I have earned by hard work and wisdom. It doesn’t make sense.

20 I thought about all my hard work, and I felt depressed. 21 When we use our wisdom, knowledge, and skill to get what we own, why do we have to leave it to someone who didn’t work for it? This is senseless and wrong. 22 What do we really gain from all of our hard work? 23 Our bodies ache during the day, and work is torture. Then at night our thoughts are troubled. It just doesn’t make sense.

The book of Ecclesiastes is a reflection on life – with all its contradictions, mysteries, injustices and frustrations.

The author does, in fact, come to the conclusion that life is useless and meaningless.

I have heard it described as “the only book in the bible written by an atheist”.  I have also heard it cited as an example of the breadth of faith – including pessimism and doubt.  I like that – that faith is big enough to include doubt and questions.  That to me, makes it a gift.  As people of faith, we don’t have to feel that we have all the answers.  We can still have questions and doubts and still believe in God – whether it makes sense or not.

For faith is not about things having to make sense. It is not about having all the answers.  If it did it would not be faith. By definition it is an act of trust. An element of doubt is perfectly acceptable – and makes God belief in him far more real and useful.

We all have times when life makes no sense, days (or even weeks or years) when we feel like we’re chasing the wind.

Do we need to understand?  If we actually understood would life be any easier – or would it in reality make it worse?  Sometimes we should search for answers, but at other times it is ok to live with the questions.  God doesn’t mind.  He isn’t offended that we ask them.

Can we sometimes leave things not making sense – and be happy that to God they do?  To remember that he holds the bigger picture?

We can carry on chasing the wind, or we can rest and be and let God be God – because he’s good at it.

Can we live with things we don’t understand, can’t grasp, don’t get?

There is space for it in the bible without God falling apart, or faith being lost.  I think God can take it from us.

Can we ultimately trust and leave it to God to sort out

Lord,
I have so many questions,
a great long list…

Things I don’t understand,
don’t think are fair,
can’t work out why.

I can chase around looking for answers,
and sometimes that is the right thing to do,
but I thank you
that it is ok
to have questions,
to not know all the answers.

I thank you that you are
holding everything together,
whether I understand how or not.

And I trust you to get on with it