Sunday, November 05, 2006

A Questioning Heart

I took a sort of personal retreat this last weekend. I have an amazing wife, seriously. She encouraged me to take a trip by myself, which I did. I drove up to Dunsmuir and spent the night in a quaint little hotel on the edge of town. I spent two days reading, writing, and going for walks in the rain, it was great. Anyway, I had a sort of breakthrough thought as I was writing on Friday night, and I wanted to post an exerpt. So, without further ado:

I was thinking today about the innocence of my earlier years compared with my cynicism of late. I've always known that going back, while it often seems appealing, is never a good idea. Growth is painful, but necessary. But I realized something. I realized I'm right where I need to be, and if I can get past my bitterness I may be on the right track. What I realized is that I am asking more questions now than I ever have, and this is something that is dangerous to lose. Before I spent my time looking for answers, but perhaps the key is to always ask the questions. As I grew up in the church and went to Bible College, it seems the focus was always on finding the answers. Studying theology and scripture through a specific lens so that we could teach and explain what and why we believe to other people. The problem is that the answers only worked some of the time, for only some of the questions. And as I mature, it seems like the answers change, or perhaps the questions. There is so much mystery in scripture and i can't help but wonder if God's intention was not to provide us with answers, but to push us to constantly question so that we would never get lazy in growing closer to his heart. Maybe we're not supposed to have fool-proof answers, maybe the mystery is there to keep us questioning. In this regard, I feel like in spite of my bitterness and cynicism, I'm right where I need to be, questioning. I'm beginning to see that I don't want to lose this. People who have the answers become fearful of the possibility they might be wrong. I want to be fearful of the possibility that I'm becoming complacent. Perhaps spiritual leadership should not be about guiding people to the answers, but guiding people to the questions that will bring them ever closer to the heart of God.

I did write this late on Friday night, so I hope it makes sense. I guess I feel like we in the church have been scared of questions because we want people to believe like we do. Maybe we feel that if we entertain too many questions or say "I don't know" to something, we'll look like idiots and no one will want to be a Christian. I think what we've done, with good intentions, is lost our ability to question and grapple with mystery and thus have run the danger of becoming complacent. And I'm talking at the basic level here. Asking questions like "What does it look like to be a follower of Christ in present culture and society". I'm talking about setting aside our preconceived notions of what we think we know, setting aside all our answers, and relentlessy asking questions in pursuit of the heart of God. I think this is how I will remain close to God's heart, by constantly asking questions. I'm beginning to see that what I thought was my greatest weakness is perhaps my greatest strength, a questioning heart.

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