Friday, 5 October 2012

Are there questions God can't answer?

My first son Chase was about three years old when he asked me a question that I have never forgotten:  “Mommy, how many ways can you squish a marshmellow?” 

I still chuckle when I think of it. Though it wasn’t really answerable, the question was  adorable and imaginative.  It reflected the way he saw the world, the things that mattered to him, and his curiosity about how life worked.  That was so precious to me.

I wonder sometimes about the questions I ask God.  I have so many.  Are they precious to him, just because he is my loving heavenly Father and he adores me?  I'm constantly asking how...? why...? when...? can’t you...? where will...?  And then there are those times that I behave childishly, stomping my feet and getting pouty when He doesn’t seem to answer.  
Not only do I want the answers, but I also prefer them to be instant and gratifying.  Thank you very much!

Three years ago, after my dad passed away, I read C.S. Lewis‘ A Grief Observed in which Lewis grapples with the agonizing loss of his beloved wife, Helen.  His raw and tender writings were never originally intended for publication, they were simply his own personal reflections and a way to process the pain and questions arising from his own “dark chasm of grief.” (see introduction)  He addresses this idea of questioning God in one particular passage which has come to my mind many times since I first read it, especially in my own seasons of intense introspection and questioning:

“When I lay these questions before God, I get no answer. But a rather special sort of ‘No answer.’  It is not the locked door.  It is more like a silent, certainly not uncompassionate, gaze.  As though He shook His head not in refusal but waiving the question.  Like, “Peace, child; you don’t understand.’

Can a mortal ask questions which God finds unanswerable?  Quite easily, I should think.  All nonsense questions are unanswerable.  How many hours are there in a mile?  Is yellow square or round?  Probably half the questions we ask--half our great theological and metaphysical problems--are like that.” 
(p. 685 in The Complete C.S. Lewis Signature Classics.  Copyright 2002 Harper Collins Publishers.)
I think Lewis is right. Many times, I’m just not asking the right questions.  Not that there’s a trick in it - I can come before God with all the questions of my heart and know that I am received and loved by him.  However, I readily admit that my questions are laced with ignorance, more often than not.  They are sincere, certainly.  But no matter how sincerely I come before my Creator, if I am honest, I can see that my questions reflect a limited and often skewed understanding of who He is and how He works.  Is it any wonder that many of my  questions are not answered?  How does God answer nonsense questions with anything but compassion and love?
being surprised by his stunning
I’m beginning to ask the best question:  what is the right question, Lord?  

If I want to get closer - to know Him better, am I willing to surrender my perspective and seek His when asking my questions?  Beyond that, am I really willing to listen for his answer?

I'd be honored to hear your perspective in the comment section below.

photos © melody armstrong

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