Many of us begin our walk of faith thinking that the Bible is a book of answers but really it is a book of questions. Some people are in church not because they are looking for God but because they are looking for answers. I smile at church billboards proclaiming “We Have the Answers.”
As a pastor, I want to be careful when it comes to giving answers. Why? Because I believe we can learn more by struggling for the answer and not finding it, than we can from learning the answer itself. I don’t have all the answers. I don’t try to be “the answer man.” You’ll hear me say often, “I don’t know.”
Would you agree with me in saying (being the control freaks we all are) that we seek the security of a closed system that promises “answers” to life’s problems long before we’re interested in seeking a relationship with the God who withholds them? We study the Bible as a problem-solving workbook long before we approach it as a doorway to an awesome “your-ways-are-not-my-ways” God.
I believe we learn more by not finding the answers because, in our deficiency, we are most likely to experience God. “His strength is made perfect in our weakness,” the Bible says (II Corinthians 12:9). I have come to believe that people who carry around the answers to all of life’s questions are not likely to have a dynamic relationship with the living God.
April 14 is our precious Leigh Alexandra’s birthday. Alex would have turned 28 this year. After her death in 1993, Patricia and I read everything we could to comfort ourselves and others who have or will walk this same path. One book in particular has meant a lot to me. It is Jeff Leeland’s ONE SMALL SPARROW. The title comes from Matthew 10:29 where Jesus says, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.”
The book chronicles Jeff’s 10-month-old son’s struggle against a potentially fatal bone marrow disease. It invites the reader to walk through the tortuous medical procedures the child had to endure to live. On top of the child’s illness, Jeff Leeland’s insurance would not cover a bone marrow transplant and a disabled junior high school student donated his life’s savings of $60 which started an outpouring of generosity that snowballed to $200,000.
I am happy to say that the transplant was a success and Leeland’s son has grown up and enjoys excellent health. There’s a line in the book that sustains me even though our Alex didn’t survive and grow up. Jeff Leeland writes:
“When our boy was journeying through the valley of the shadow of death during his transplant, we no longer felt God’s hand. But it was then we felt his heartbeat. It was then we realized most deeply that he is a personal God who weeps, who is acquainted with every sorrow, who has ached with every pain.”
What’s he saying? No answer, but deep intimacy. Remember Job? If you count the questions in the book of Job, you’ll come up with 288! Many of the questions were from the mouth of Job. Others were launched from the lips of his “friends.” But surprisingly, when God finally speaks in the closing chapters, his “answer” to Job comes in the form of more questions, 78 of them!
Of the 288 question marks in the book of Job, 78 belong to God; he answers Job with questions. Isn’t that interesting? Perhaps God answers with questions to leave us humbled, awed, weak, speechless, and believing. Believing not because we’ve found an answer, but because we’ve found God!
Since that sad, sad, day in 1993 when Alex died, we have enjoyed an intimacy with Jesus that we never would have enjoyed had we simply been given answers. Intimacy with God is what it’s all about my friend. Questions are unimportant when intimacy overwhelms. I rest today not because of answered questions but because of an ever deepening intimacy with the God who saw our “sparrow” fall (and cares).