Can You Can Your Questions?

It all happened like a kind of slow motion movie.

I was driving home the other day and as I approaching a corner, one that I have driven around probably thousands of times, I saw a white car take it way too fast. It lost control, came across the middle line and ploughed into a large 4wd. The white car literally bounced off the 4wd and spun around back on to its correct side of the road and then into a ditch.

I was a witness.

It’s quite surreal when you see something like this happen. For thousands of times I have seen cars come around that corner safely, carefully and continue on. My brain was expecting this. That would have been normal. It was different and when something out of the ordinary suddenly happens it catches you unawares. You have to stop and take stock of everything.

I gave my details over to the drivers and told them that I lived just down the road and if they needed my testimony I would be there.

About 3 hours later two policemen up and asked me for a witness statement. I learned that the young lady driving had been drinking alcohol.

It sent a shiver down my spine.

If I had been 5 seconds earlier it could have been me. My wife and children drive on this road, it could have been them.

There are things I still don’t know. Did she have a license to drive, how much was she over the alcohol limit, did the car have a warrant of fitness, and why was she in such a hurry?

Do I need to know? Not really.

Mysteries always have some element of unknowing. If we knew all the answers there would be no mystery.

Have you figured God out yet?

Have you questions, unanswered, gnawing away at you?

At times we can get so wound up in the mystery that we lose connection with the importance of the now. We make it our life cause to solve the unsolvable.

Some become obsessive about the finest of details. Trawling over theologies, addicted to solving the unsolvable they lose contact with the most important joys of life – the relationships they have.

Take the story of Job. Here is a man caught up in a mysterious chess game of power between All Powerful God and the limited power of an angel – satan. The pawn piece of Jobs life is buffeted around by all the knocks of tragedy, loss, and illness that can be thrown at one man.

He wants, needs, demands, even pants for answers.

The muse of God comes and speaks ‘from the eye of a violent storm.’ Job 38:1

“Now what do you have to say for yourself?
Are you going to haul me, the Mighty One, into court and press charges?” Job 40:1, 2

In your mental health Has this become not just a distraction but an idol you bow to with bonded allegiance.

Just then a religion scholar stood up with a question to test Jesus. “Teacher, what do I need to do to get eternal life?” He answered, “What’s written in God’s Law? How do you interpret it?” He said, “That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself.” “Good answer!” said Jesus. “Do it and you’ll live.” Luke 10: 25-28

Love. Now there is the greatest of all mysteries. The more you try and unpack ‘Love’ the more mysterious it becomes.

There is a rest, available to all, of not demanding to know.

Can I entrust the mysteries of a questioning heart to one who cares for me and will reveal answers to me their way and in their time. Am I ok with never knowing? Some mysteries are meant to be unsolved. The answers maybe too devastating and overwhelming for any of us to bear.

Resting in God means letting some things be unknown

A Spiritual Director suggested to me a Can.

1. Get a tin can with a slot in the top. Like a piggy bank where you placed your pocket-money as a child.

2. Write your questions down on a piece of paper. As long as you like or as short as you like. It is over to you. They are your questions and nobody else needs to know them, Make them as honest and raw as possible.

3. Place them into the questions can.
Squeeze that A4 refill ream of paper through that narrow slot.

4. Hand the can of questions over to God.
 Perhaps you might like to pray like this. ‘Lord, I don’t know, I want to know, and I trust your wisdom to let me know when and if its best for me to know. My relationship of love for you and others is more important than the questions I have. I entrust this can to you.’

5. Shelve it.
Place the can up on a shelf and leave it there. As you let the questions rest, as you lay them down and stop working on them answers may well appear like gracious friends bringing hot cookies for warm conversation.

6. When more questions come, questions that start to gnaw at you, can them.
We all have questions and some will create great tension in us. Can them with prayer.

7. Review the questions.
If you really feel the need to, then in later years open the can and ponder if the questions have been answered yet. Have they been answered in ways you weren’t quite expecting? Are there any surprises? How have you changed in the time since you wrote that question? Do the questions have as much power over you as they did back then?

Perhaps this tangible spiritual formation exercise can help you to let go of the weight of what you have been carrying.

Quote to Consider

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through some stages of instability
— and that it may take a very long time.
Teilhard de Chardin

Barry Pearman
Photo Credit: Jan Herbert via Compfight cc

Did you find this helpful, interesting, challenging? A crop of you

Could I ask you to do a couple of things?

You may also like to send me an email. There is a contact form at the base of this post. Looking forward to hearing from you.

4 comments

  1. Wonderful ideas in this post, Barry! What a great thing to do with/for questions I have for God.

    In recovery circles here in the Chicago area (like in AA, NA, and similar 12 Step groups), we have something similar. It’s called a “God Box.” I’ve been told that it is such a relief to write down your fears, concerns and anxieties on pieces of paper, put them in the box, and then give them to God. So freeing, and such a relief. Turn it over to God. Thanks! @chaplaineliza

  2. HI Barry,
    When the going gets tough and the bible is seen to be the product of its time, just put your curly questions in a box. And your head in the sand.
    Cheers
    Gary

    1. Thanks Gary, I think those that put their head in the sand eventually suffocate. Not advocating that! More that there are some things I will never fully understand. I am not going to wind myself up in tension because of it. Perhaps in time the answer will be revealed.

      Barry

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