By Jayne Hugo Davis
“How would you dispose of a dead body?”
Our staff team was playing a board game called Loaded Questions last week. We had gotten together for a meal and some forced family fun and that was one of the questions in the game. Each of us had to secretly answer and then Nathan, whose turn it was, had to guess which answer belonged to which staff person. You learn a lot about a person by how they answer a question like that. And, honestly, one or two answered it just a little too quickly for my liking, as if they had given this some thought already. Note to self — don’t go swimming with Don.
Jesus was masterful at asking revealing questions.
“What are you looking for?” is the question that always stops me in my tracks. I’m so drawn to that first chapter of John, to hear Jesus pose that question to two of John’s disciples who are following behind Jesus on the road. “What are you looking for?”
It’s a question that never gets old. It seems like we are always looking for something, in search of something. Many days it feels like we’re just walking. Anywhere. Nowhere. Somehow if we keep moving then we are doing OK. But where are we going really? What are we looking for?
As a coach, questions are key. You listen for what the other person is saying — maybe on the surface, maybe below the surface — and hear in those words the content of the next question; the marker that will lead farther down the road to where they are trying to go.
“What are you looking for?” Our answer might surprise us. Or disappoint us.
In his question, Jesus addresses us as people who want to go somewhere. But we have to answer the question to actually get there. He could easily give us the answer, tell us what we need to look for. More and more that seems to be what folks want — to be given the answers to the hard questions of faith. But that wouldn’t help us to see what we need to see about ourselves, would it?
That’s the nitty gritty of the work of faith, isn’t it? To be vulnerable before Jesus’ questions. To see ourselves as we really are so that we can see God as he really is. To follow behind Jesus on the road.
Last month I started reading through the Gospels to compile all of the questions that Jesus asked. I had gone through Matthew, Mark and half of Luke before it occurred to me that someone else may have already done this before. Quite a few people, actually. I’m feeling a bit inadequate that Martin Copenhaver identified 307 questions and I only found 236, but I’m trying to let that go.
As a part of my new year’s resolution I have begun a spiritual practice of sitting with the questions. Each week for the 52 weeks of 2016 I want to sit with one of Jesus’ questions and allow that question to read me. To let it sink deep into my heart and mind and spirit over the course of seven days and be changed by it. To meet God in the holy ground of the question.
Maybe you’d like to join me on this journey. Each week’s question will be posted on my Facebook page.
“When Jesus turned and saw them following, he asked, ‘What are you looking for?’” (John 1:38).