…I would like to beg you dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”
Rainer Maria Rilke, 1903 in Letters to a Young Poet
Questions are good. They bring life, release energy, they cause us to explore and to gain knowledge. But living our questions as Rilke suggests, without a guaranteed answer, is not an easy life. In fact, it is a messy, open-ended uncertain life. We prefer neat, settled and identified. Some areas of life offer sure answers, two plus two always equals four, water and oxygen are necessary to sustain life. But when it comes to the big questions, the existential, universal ones, the ones that only God can answer we can come up empty and confused. We come with our important questions and God’s answers often seem to not satisfy.
Have you noticed that Jesus rarely answered people’s questions of him in a neat, packaged way? Usually he responded with a question back to the one inquiring or with a parable that often seemed to confuse the matter even further.
Jesus’ spirit-guided intuition helped him to know the heart and the motivation of the people who sought him out with questions. He answered accordingly. His answers revealed their hearts; his responses exposed their real questions.
- The Pharisees trying to trick him – How can we eliminate your threat?
- The rich young ruler wanting to display his righteousness – How can I bolster my ego?
- Nicodemus seeking a second birth – How can I get in on this good news?
- The dying thief’s request to be remembered in Christ’s kingdom – Is there hope for me? Even after all I’ve done?
God’s answers lead us to our real questions. Listening to the answers God gives leads us to know our true self.
It all begins with daring to approach God with a question.
So we’re going to ask God some pretty significant questions over the next few posts. And we’ll do our best to listen for God’s answers. These answers can lead us to a transformed life.
Our first question is, “Who is God?” We’ll talk about this question in my next post.