Each Thursday night as my Bible study group leaves our Zoom meeting, I sneak a peak at Twitter to find the early release of the Five Minute Friday word prompt. In case you aren't familiar with it, FMF is a writing community I have participated in, off and on, for the last five years. In all fairness, I was mostly off
until last year when I began participating more regularly. Each Friday our host gives us one word, and we allow ourselves about five minutes to write. If you'd like to participate, you can read more here: FMF
. Over the last few months, the FMF community has been a source of encouragement to me. Let's be honest - most of us have needed an extra dose of encouragement over the last few months.
Sometimes encouragement falls in your lap when it's least expected. A note from a friend comes in the mail or your husband brings you something to say he's been thinking about you. You thought you were doing well, but then you feel fantastic.
Sometimes encouragement can be hard to find. Today was one of those days for me. My boss was finishing a project at home, and so I sat in my office alone most of the day. I spent my time finding ways to do everything except the one task I had set out to do. I'd work on something else, and then try to focus on the project I wanted to finish only to be distracted again. It was two steps forward, one step back as I questioned myself all day long. I was haunted by the discouraging criticisms that had been spoken to me yesterday. So, when I read there would be no FMF meet up tomorrow, I was doubly dejected.
I promised myself - this time will not be lost, too. I will write tonight. And I know what!
For my birthday, my boss gave me Ravi Zacharias' The Logic of God. Little did he know that I had been wanting to begin reading Zacharias' work, but had not yet gotten around to it. This was a great gift! But then, like most books, it went into the closet. The closet is where I keep my unread books. I have a small top shelf where I pile them high until I read them. The books I have read and want to keep get moved out to a shelf in the garage. The others get moved to a box in the garage (and I think you know where that box eventually goes). One night this week, after a few months on that shelf in the closet, I pulled out The Logic of God, ready to plow through it. I had only made it to the second page when I had to stop for his words, “Behind every question is a questioner.” I invite you to think about this with me. As far as I can recall, there was only one recorded incident of a person coming up to Jesus to ask Him a question. It goes like this:
A man came to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to have life forever?”
Jesus answered, “Why do you ask me about what is good? Only God is good. But if you want to have life forever, obey the commands.”
The man asked, “Which commands?”
Jesus answered, “‘You must not murder anyone; you must not be guilty of adultery; you must not steal; you must not tell lies about your neighbor; honor your father and mother; and love your neighbor as you love yourself.’”
The young man said, “I have obeyed all these things. What else do I need to do?”
Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, then go and sell your possessions and give the money to the poor. If you do this, you will have treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me.”
But when the young man heard this, he left sorrowfully, because he was rich.
(Matthew 19:16-22, NCV)
Don't read this wrong: there were a lot of questions asked of Jesus. His disciples often asked Him what He meant and how something was possible. He engaged people, like the woman at the well, who in turn asked Him questions. Both the Pharisees and the Sadducees were regularly trying to trip Him up with questions. That's not an exaggeration; read Mark 12:13. My point isn't that people didn't ask Jesus questions, but this encounter in Matthew 19 seems to be unique because the man approaches Jesus with a question. He had a question for Jesus. What was behind his question? The man, a questioner.
We don't know why the man had this question, but from the question we can do know that (1) he had respect for Jesus as a religious teacher, (2) he believed in eternal life, and (3) he believed one inherited eternal life from doing good. If I can be so bold, I believe we also know that (4) the man recognized that all the good he had done up until that point didn't give him certainty of salvation. There was something in his life that didn't feel complete. The man asked Jesus this question because he wanted something more. Jesus told the man what he wanted to hear, something more. In this case, more meant everything. Sell everything. Leave everyone. Change everything.
The questioner went away sad, having gotten an answer he could not accept.