Monday, May 10, 2010

Ask not Why but What

I love the innocence of a child. I love her curious seeking to understand her world. There is no backward paralyzing introspection of the 'why-s' of her existence or the circumstances of her life.
That to her is an unchangeable given. Her desire is to know the 'what-s' . What is this ? What does this do ? Where does this go? How does this work ? What can I do here?
And so the beginning of her journey through life is a joyful stepping stone from discovery and growing until , sadly like the adults before her, she is old enough to ask the unanswerable 'why-s' .

Have you ever wondered what it is that makes a stream of running water feel so peaceful?
There is something deeply soothing about the rippling musical sound of water moving to it's predetermined goal - the ocean that ultimately embraces all streams and rivers.
Still water stagnates --- and so does our soul when we cling to the question 'Why??'
Asking 'what' -- "what do I do now?" "what is the next step?" moves us forward, like the stream to the end that God has already pre-determined -- of good and not of evil.
I thought about how the quote "ask not why but what" would look laid alongside scripture.
I considered some examples of bible characters that could well have asked "why?" but instead asked "what?" and thereby found the God-answers that satisfied them.

Job's agonizing experience was so horrendous we still today use him today as a standard against which to measure our tragedies .
God never answered the why questions. WE know the why, but Job didn't.
If God had told him the 'why' Job would have missed the goal.
When Job finally came to the place where he stopped listening to the people around him seeking the 'why' and was willing to ask 'what' .... he moved forward to the goal God had intended all along ... "I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear, But NOW my eye sees you...." (Job 42:5) and he flowed into the ocean of God's multiplied blessings.
Job's friends considered ONLY the 'why?' of Job's tragedy and in the seeking of 'why' made the mistake that is so commonly made by all who get stuck crying 'why?' They, like Job's friends, speak of God what is not right! (Job 42:7)

The Shunammite Woman
The Shunammite woman who provided for Elisha an upper room for his comfort and rest, had lived her life with the stigma and heartbreak of being childless. She had come to the place where she felt it was better to live with her buried pain than to risk a vulnerable heart -- opened to the bliss of loving a child only to lose it. That was something beyond what she thought she would be able to bear. (see II Kings 16,28)
We know the story how God DOES open her heart and lays a son in her bosom but her greatest fear comes to pass.
The son is still tender in years when he dies in her arms.
Does she wail in grief , refusing to be comforted? Call her husband and household around her to cry the 'why's' with her?
No ... she knows only one question .. "what now?" -- She moves.
One person comes to her mind - Elisha. She puts her 'what now' into action.
Camly, she asks her husband for a donkey and an escort to go visit the prophet. The husband sees no sign of grief or distress in his wife's face -- he is only curious why she should want to see the prophet. She does not tell him.
The only urgency we see in her is the fact that she tells the young man to drive as fast as he can!
Elisha comes and raises the boy from the dead and restores him to his mother's waiting arms. The ultimate 'what now? ' is that God used this 'tragedy' to restore to the woman her property after her husband dies without which she and her son would have been destitute. (II Kings 8)
Had the woman stagnated on the 'why' .... and not moved with the 'what now' , we would not have her life story to encourage and teach us by example today.

Jesus' Disciples
When their beloved leader was crucified, the disciples were devastated in their bewildering wilderness of 'why'. Jesus was buried, gone from among them , nothing made sense. Numb, they just gave up and said .. "we might as well go back to fishing."
UNTIL ... the 'what now?' took hold of them, and changed the rest of their lives. They caught the vision!!
What now?? oh yes ! because of Jesus' sacrificial death, we have new life ! We have a ministry of reconciliation ... a message of hope to bring to a dying world.
What now ?? oh yes.. we can move through this life with purpose toward an 'ocean' of eternity - forever to live with our Lord and God !
"Oh Lord, may we have that child-like attitude to ask 'what now?' May we never give in to the discouragement or grief that threatens to overwhelm us in the bog mire of 'why' but may we look up to you and know that you will never forsake us and that you have already gone before and laid out every 'what now' path. May we put our hand in yours, and with unwavering trust walk where you lead us. Amen"


ellen b. said...

Good morning Julie. What a great post and encouragement to not get stuck in our woes. What now is a great response to have...

Elsie said...

So much food for thought! I suppose that when we ask "why" it is like questioning if God knows what He's doing, not trusting Him, almost challenging Him. "What now" shows trust in Him as a guide, and a humble heart that wants to follow Him.

John Daily said...

Julie, I feel blessed at finding this blog. I have been having a bad day and now realize that I have been asking why rather than what.

This blog is a blessing to those who find it and I know that the Lord has led me here.

I am also trying to help others by telling my story and hope that it can be as much of a blessing as this has been to me.

GOD Bless You

Kathy said...

Good thoughts for me to think on today. Kathy

Marg said...

You know who I am...and thanks so much for sharing that with me. That nugget sticks like glue and makes so much sense...that I could almost write a book on how that's changed my attitude over the last week.
Thanks again Julie.