Sunday, September 12, 2010

Looking for Questions is the Answer

I have always been curious about things. In school I was always asking the teacher, "Why?" I wanted answers to my questions. Sometimes I received them and other times I just got a shrug or the comment, "I don't know why, it just is. Shut up and sit down, you are disrupting the class!"

This was very frustrating. It became even more frustrating when I decided to search for God. There were just too many times when there was not a clear cut answer. The default answer to the most difficult questions, the "aha, I got you on this one God," questions were usually, "Sit down and shut up, you just have to have faith." As a person who could only believe in things I had an answer for, the "faith" answer, to me, was a cop out. It confirmed to me that my own theory about God not being real was true. I didn't know that God was just smiling at me wryly and goading me to keep asking and not stopping because I did not get a quick, satisfactory answer.

After many years of begrudgingly putting aside the questions that could not be answered I have received an answer to the faith question I did not see coming. The best answer to many God-size questions is another question. Jesus ended many parables and answered many questions with another question. It frustrated the disciples and it frustrates me when I read the Bible. I want quick, easy to understand answers that affirm what I already want the answer to be. It is much like when a Psychiatrist comes back to my question of "Why do I act like this?" with, "Well, what do you think?"

I finally get it. God is not trying to frustrate me by not answering my questions. He is telling me that I am not asking the right question, or are not yet spiritually or intellectually mature enough to understand the answer when I do hit on the right question. There are also big questions for which I can never understand God's answer. This does not mean the lack of an answer means God is trying to pull a fast one on us. He knows not to even try to dumb it down to a level I can comprehend. Heck, even the questions He does clearly answer usually baffle me. Mark Twain said, "It ain't those parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand."

My school teachers often did not answer my questions either. They told me to go look it up for myself. God does the same thing. I have found that if I go digging for answers I usually get more questions, different questions or questions contrary to my original assumption of what I thought the answer may be. My need for an answer to the original question is superseded by my curiosity to pursue the new questions. I am like a dog with a bone. I will relentlessly protect and chew that bone until I have sucked all of the flavor from it then toss it aside when a new, bigger, more flavorful bone attracts my attention.

I am now like the guy who goes to the doctor and says," Doc, every time I bang my head against the wall it hurts. Can you make it quit hurting?" The doctor replies, "Sure! Try smashing your finger with a hammer instead and the pain in your head will go away."

The point is, seeking answers don't always make us feel better. The point of seeking God is to seek the right questions. Then chew the questions over and over again until it produces a new, more insightful question. Just like the purpose of life is not the destination, it is the journey. The same is true of the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom. It is not the answers that are important, it is the contemplation of the question that is most satisfying and bears the most fruit.