You’re standing in the mind-altering presence of the King of Kings. What would you ask? No holding back. Go deep. I think of some kind of cosmic lottery win and this is the grand prize. Except in the throne room there are no flashing lights—but majesty, awe, amazing grace. You are guaranteed an answer. If you could ask God one question, what would it be? He’s all ears.
I remember that Joan Osborne song from 1995 (was it that long ago?): “If you were faced with Him in all His glory / What would you ask if you had just one question?”
I think the question we’d ask God reveals our deepest wants—our deepest places of echo longing for a solid Voice. Our places of meaning are often lonely fields. We want them to go from tentative crop to robust harvest. We often want confirmation from Lord Almighty. We want (lasting) abundance. We want directing. We want wisdom. We want a counter-point to any fear of eternal aloneness.
A Minister Gets the “God Question”
Two years ago someone asked the “God question” to me. And being a minister it’s like I’m supposed to have some profound insight or something! So I had to think really hard. What I came up with at the time was, “Why aren’t you more obvious?” You’re right—not that profound! And if I could guess the answer I think it’d probably be that if God were more obvious there’d be no room for faith (and faith means trust), and therefore, no room for real love. It’s hard to love without trust. For beyond all good “reasons” that we do this or that, we quite often act out of love. Maybe without the ambiguity, there’d be no space to discover the mystery, the brilliance, and the beauty of Jesus. Maybe.
But it set within me a curiosity about what other people might ask of God. Plus, now that I’ve had more time to think about it, would my own question change?
Other People’s Questions – First Reaction
Recently I have been in a bunch of situations where people have been asked the question (sometimes by me). These people range from older to younger. “If you could ask God one question, what would it be?” A tonne of different questions arise like a net full of fish being heaved to the surface. I remember a few who answered quickly: “Will I get into heaven?” “What’s your favourite hymn?” “Why’d you let Hitler loose on the planet?”
Other People’s Questions – Big Thinkers
Others take a few more minutes to think and they say, almost softly: “Why do you, a supposedly good God, allow suffering in the world?” That’s a big one. One particular person I’m thinking of added, “especially with children.” Someone else said: “Is there only one right way to get to you?” “Why would you send people to hell?” “Is Jesus really the Son of God?” “Why did Jesus have to die?” Another person said, “When will Jesus come back?” “When will I die?” Another, “How did everything begin?” These are colossal questions. And good ones.
Other People’s Questions – Every Day Wonders
But the vast majority of the questions I’ve heard relate more to our normal everyday get groceries, pay bills, reading bedtime stories, trying to be a good person lives. “Am I doing a good job?” “How can I be a better parent?” “With all the stuff I’ve done, can I still get into heaven?” “What can I do to help so-and-so?” “Will you inject some peace into my chaotic life?” “Should I change careers?” “Who am I going to marry?”
Other People’s Questions – The Tender Places
And the questions can get very specific: “Why am I depressed?” “Why did you make me like this?” “Why didn’t you stop it when such-and-such happened to me in 5th grade?” “Will anyone ever love me—I mean, really love me?” The genesis of these questions are hurts with deep roots. They need to be honoured. And they are legitimate. Wouldn’t you love to know the answers too?—especially since God is the One who made each and every one of us and was knitting us together while still in our mother’s womb? (Psalm 139:13)
Magnetized to God
I agree with the Renaissance poet Francis Quarles who said that our soul is like an iron needle drawn to the magnetic pole of God. There is something innately within us that is scouring the horizons of our lives for meaning, for God. But the thing about God is that he is also searching for us too. That’s the whole thing about Christmas. It’s God come looking for us!
That said, let’s turn the question around: If God Could Ask You Any Question, What Would It Be?
Do you think he would have a judgmental tone? Would he isolate that secret sin that no one knows about and with fiery voice demand that you explain? Would he ask you why you so often take the other path? The wide, well-groomed trail of laughter and popularity, instead of the narrower, muddy road of two wounded footsteps? Maybe.
Or would he ask you about your success? Actually, let me change that. Mother Teresa famously said that God doesn’t care about how ‘successful’ we are, but about how faithful we are. Would he ask about your faith? Would he ask what gave you the strength to care for your children or grandchildren or parents? Would he ask us about your dreams? What are they? And what’s stopping you?
(Shhh, there’s a trick here, God already knows the answer.)
So, what would God ask you? Really? Will that question influence how you live tomorrow? And if you could ask God one question, what would it be? Does it tell you anything about your priorities? About the horizons of meaning in your life?
So… Would I Change My Question?
Now that I’ve had time to think about it, would I change my original question? Yes. Actually, I think I would ask a new question in two parts. I know that’s breaking the rules – but hey, this is my blog and I can do what I want! :o) At first I considered, “What is your purpose for my life?” But after years of prayer, Scripture and study I`m pretty sure I know what that one is. So the first part of my question would be: “What do you want me to learn?” I would ask this knowing that when God speaks, we are wise to heed! We might not always like what he says.
My second question is kind of inspired by something C.S. Lewis said: “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” So with that illumination, here’s the second part of my question: “From a zillion trillion possibilities, why did you specifically create me?”
So, web-o-sphere friends: If you could ask God one question, what would it be?