I spent a week hanging out and ministering to a bunch of high schoolers at Warren Willis Summer Camp. I cannot begin to tell you how much of a blessing it was to stand in front of these young people and proclaim Jesus to them. It was challenging and rewarding all at the same time.
One of my jobs during the week was to lead a couple of Q and A sessions. The kids sent their questions in a day or so early and I was to stand in front of them and bring them the answers. Never let the antics of a high schooler fool you…these kids are thoughtful. Their questions were intelligent and spoke of a desire to have strong answers to the theological, social and philosophical issues they faced. Like I said…this was a challenging environment.
As I prepared for the Q & A sessions, I realized that no matter how thorough my answers might be, it more than likely was not going to resolve the tension they felt. The true issue that was underneath most of the questions was rooted in their need for a connection with their Creator. It all got me thinking about the number of times people have approached me and other leaders with life’s most puzzling questions…knowing full well that the answer would never fill the gap of pain, regret, and sorrow. Only Jesus, not answers, can heal the human heart. Yet, philosophical and metaphysical questions abound in an age of skepticism and doubt about all things spiritual.
As I reflected further, I began to see that often my desire for answers is a passive form of control. Underneath the curiosity and desire for closure is a deeper thirst for knowledge…knowledge for later use…towards God. If I can figure out why God allowed situation A to happen, then maybe I can keep it from happening again. If someone can tell me how to get the desired answer to my most pressing prayer request, then I can create the formula and plug it in when I need it. I want an answer because I want a system that will continue to bring me the desired outcome. Not to say that getting answers is a bad thing. But sometimes, prayer is used by people like me to control God and move His hand. Sometimes, I would rather have answers than walk with God through the ups and downs of life as He teaches me how to overcome the world.
The complicated fact about the human condition is that we can be both deeply pious and innocently manipulative at the same time. May my prayers be rooted in my relationship with God though Jesus, not my need to have answers.