Enjoying the Journey
Questions are opportunities to teach. God gave explicit instructions to Israel about what to say when your children ask (Deuteronomy 6:20-25). And ask they will! All of us who have young people in our homes are well acquainted with the question, “Why?” It is the way we answer that determines the outcome.
Recently I allowed the young people in our Academy to submit anonymously questions that have troubled them. I was overwhelmed by the response. Sincere questions and concerns. Some doctrinal, some personal – family, eternity, morality, God, the Bible, and relationships. We have since tried to schedule chapel speakers who could address specific topics that are on their minds.
Questions cannot be ignored. In fact, they should be encouraged. Don’t scold them or embarrass them. As long as they are asking questions, they are open to instruction. This is not only true at church and school. It must begin at home.
I had a follow-up meeting with our young people recently to commend them for their questions. They revealed good thought and interest. Below are the simple truths I shared with them.
1. Keep asking questions but don’t expect anyone to have all the answers.
Adults have question too! We all do. You don’t have to be afraid of finding the truth.
2. Know who to ask, when to ask, and how to ask.
Work at building respectful relationships with godly, mature people who can give you good answers from the wisdom they have accumulated. Approach them privately and sincerely and listen to what they have to say.
Dont’ begin with your peers. “Ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee” (Deuteronomy 32:7).
3. Spend time in the Bible and prayer yourself and many of your questions will be answered.
Let the Lord speak for Himself. If you ask Him for wisdom, He will answer that prayer (James 1:5).
4. Don’t reject the truth because you don’t understand one part of it.
Give it time. As you grow certain things that seem confusing now will become clearer.
5. Accept the fact that every question does not have a simple, single sentence answer.
Some things must be accepted by faith. Even atheists do this! Young believers should be willing to trust what God says and what those who love them have to say.
6. When you still have questions, go back to what you know for sure.
Reaffirm the simple, basic things that you know to be God’s truth. Don’t let questions define your life. The devil loves to bring question marks. God brings periods and exclamation points! Live with certainty and refuse to allow your mind to “be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3).
7. Share the answer with others.
When God makes something real to your mind, pass it along! If it helped you, it will help others.
A few weeks ago I spent an hour with a fine young man who is struggling with his faith. He had a lot of questions. I appreciated his respectful tone and willingness to listen to what the Bible has to say. When our time was finished I had not convinced him on every point or removed all doubt. But we had developed a meaningful conversation, a friendship, that will hopefully help him work through the questions in his mind.
More and more I understand what Solomon must have been feeling when he wrote to his son, “Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge. For it is a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee; they shall withal be fitted in thy lips. That thy trust may be in the LORD, I have made known to thee this day, even to thee. Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge. That I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightiest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee?”
I want my children to learn the certainty of truth. Ultimately, I want them to know the God of truth. Every question is an opportunity for this if I am discerning enough to realize it and patient enough to answer.
We must give them truth. We must give it with a pleasant spirit. The words of my own dad make so much more sense today: “It’s not what you say; it’s how you say it.”