“After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions.” – Luke 2:26
“Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.” – Rainer Maria Rilke
For as long as I can remember, my life has been filled with questions. There were the questions I asked, and was asked, and those I silently carried around with me like a rough stone in my pocket worn smooth over time. There was the question Mr. Rogers repeated over and over again while his dog had me pinned down in his backyard, “Why do you boys keep cutting through my yard when I’ve told you to stay out?” There was Mrs. Loder’s question, my fifth grade teacher, asking “which one of us boys had snuck in early from recess and turned the classroom clock back twenty minutes?”
Most of the questions posed to me while growing up came at home from my mother: “Did you make your bed?”; “Did you remember to put the seat down?”; “Why are you tormenting your sisters?”; “Why are you standing in front of the refrigerator with the door open?”; “Where is your homework?”; and “How did you get these holes in your knees?”
In part, mostly through attrition, I have learned to become more comfortable with questions than I am with answers. In fact, over time, I’ve become increasingly skeptical of those who offer easy answers or simple solutions.
In his book Jesus Is the Question: The 307 Questions Jesus Asked and 3 He Answered, author Martin P. Copenhaver writes, “Easy answers can give us a sense of finality. By entertaining questions, God has a chance to change us. Answers can be offered as a conclusion. Questions are an invitation to further reflection. For the most part, answers close and questions open. It is telling that the word question contains the word “quest.” That is, a question sends you on a journey and often in search of something valuable.
Truth be known, I have rarely if ever felt very certain about anything. This isn’t to say that I don’t have my convictions or that I haven’t done my homework on some of the larger questions of life like “Who am I?” and “What am I here for?” Still, when I feel as though I have finally settled upon an informed opinion, when challenged by new information, a new experience, or a persuasive argument, I often find myself feeling the need to return to the drawing board to start all over again.
Someone once said that “an unquestioned faith is no faith at all,” and I believe that. Jesus was forever asking his disciples and those who challenged his authority questions: “Who do you say that I am?”, “Who or what are you looking for?” “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, but forfeits his soul?” In asking, he sends us again on a quest, a search for self understanding and our understanding of the other. I’m finding, If we stay the course, in time, by the grace of God, we come to find that more meaningful than finding answers is living with the questions.