Asking the Right Question

“Does knowing that God might frustrate your plans bring you comfort?” Sometimes a question can be worth a thousand words. This question, asked by Jeanelle Reider in her book, The One Voice that Matters, speaks volumes about God’s will and following God’s will. It is better than twenty treatises on the subject. It states simply that the one who is truly docile to God’s spirit finds comfort in knowing God might frustrate their plans. I am comforted by knowing that if I’m on the wrong track, God will correct that course and set me back on the right path.

As someone who spent the first twenty years of my adult life obsessing over what was God’s will and whether I was following that will, I love this question. I’ve since eased up on myself, accepting that as long as I genuinely try to seek out God’s will, God won’t let me stray too far. I would rather God have his way than I get my way. I’ve seen what a mess I can make of my life on my own. I’m much better off when God’s in charge. This doesn’t mean I get it right all of the time, hence the question above. I’m glad I have a God who isn’t shy about intervening and showing me the errors of my ways. I’d rather have God frustrate my best laid plans than to be successful in hell.

Journalists know the value of the right questions; they know to ask, who, what, when, where and how. Counselors and teachers know the worth of well-placed questions. They don’t always have to be answered, but they do need to be raised.

Jesus, the Master Teacher, knew this as well. He asks some of the best questions, simple ones that speak to the heart. I counted fifty-four questions in Matthew’s gospel alone, forty in John’s.

As a counselor and spiritual director I’ve been trained in the use of open-ended questions to lead individuals to insight, but Jesus knew about this long before there were any licensed psychologists. His questions speak to the heart. “What do you want?” (Mt. 20:21) and “Whom are you looking for?” (John 18:4, 7) Jesus asks people of his time and continues to ask each generation. These are useful questions, beautiful questions, questions that speak volumes and need to be asked over and over again.

Imagine that, God asks us what we want, whom we are looking for. Our God doesn’t always tell us what to do. God asks questions to lead us on right paths, and not only that, God consults us in the process. Sometimes when I obsess over what God wants, God turns my question around and asks me what I want. God is interested in me.

So what are some of the questions that have been most helpful to you in your life? Are there questions you would like to ask God? Go ahead, for God is listening.

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