I love a good question.
I am a life coach and spiritual director, so I ask a lot of questions. The most golden moments are when I ask a question and it is followed by a long, loaded pause. It’s as if that little railroad cart - you know, the one in the cartoon where two people are pumping back and forth to keep it going - gets going full speed ahead down a hill and then the track suddenly curves upward and ends abruptly, launching them off into space in slow motion. When my questions launch people into a silent space swirling with new thoughts, I love to watch the wheels turning, or arms flailing, and wait in wonder until they catch a thought and transform it into words.
Questions lead to new thoughts. They open doors to new worlds. They are portals.
I like asking questions.
I like asking God questions too. Usually they are the kind that start with Why or When or How long. But I recently noticed that Jesus had a habit of asking questions too. And when Jesus asked a question, it wasn’t because he didn’t know the answer. He was putting a portal in front of that person. They could walk through to new thoughts and new worlds, or just look at the door and stay in this world.
Jesus asked Phillip a question one day. They were up on a mountain side by the sea, hanging out with their friends, the disciples. But a large crowd was following them because they wanted to see Jesus do miracles. Jesus saw the crowd coming and asked Phillip, “Where are we to buy bread so that these people may eat?” (John 6:5)
Bam! He created a portal right in front of Phillip. But Phillip didn’t see it! He walked right by it. He didn’t recognize it as a portal to a new dimension, a miraculous dimension. Instead he stayed in his own dimension where “two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.” (v.7)
Dear Andrew, however, recognized something otherworldly in that question. He might have just been making out the ethereal edges of that portal; but he walked right through it!
“Well, that kid has five loaves and two fish…”
He was half way through the portal.
That surely didn’t make sense in this world as a solution for feeding five thousand people. But he offered the non-solution back to Jesus. He had part of the answer; but part of an answer is as good as that railroad cart with square wheels. It’s not going to launch you anywhere.
He needed Jesus to answer the question that Jesus asked!
Curiously, the scripture says that Jesus asked Phillip that question “to test him, for He himself knew what He would do.” (v.6) Jesus already knew the answer to the question he asked. He had something in mind. He knew the world on the other side of that door. The question was just there as a doorway.
After reading this passage in a whole new light, I realized how much I love to ask questions, but how much more I love to have questions asked to me. I wanted a portal-test like Phillip had gotten and Andrew had walked through. So, instead of asking Jesus a question, I asked Jesus to ask me a question.
My next thought was, “Who do you say that I am?”
“That’s a cop out”, I thought. Too easy.
“You are the Christ, the son of the living God.”
But I felt that pregnant pause, and the swirl in my stomach, as I was launched off the end of the cartoon railroad track into a floating space of other possible answers.
Wonderful, silent, gravity-less space of thoughts. Contemplation.
Who do I say that He is?
Of course, I say He is the Son of God… But who else do I say that He is?
Jesus asked me that question to test me, because He knew He had something in mind for me. There was a full-on world behind that question. It was a portal.
Peter’s iconic answer, “You are the Christ,” was not revealed by flesh and blood.
Maybe He had answers for my test-question too…
Who do I say that He is?
Do I say that He is the giver of joy?
If I do, then there is a whole world behind that!
Do I say that He is my Provider?
Then, there are miraculous provisions about to burst that door down and pull me into a new paradigm!
Do I say that He is Protector?
I could go anywhere with brazen confidence!
Do I say that He is the creator of Spacious Place (the internal place I live in spacious freedom and curiosity)?
Woah. Spacious Place just got bigger and even more full of things to explore!
Questions are portals. Mystical doorways to possibilities that are solid and sure, because Jesus asks questions when He knows what He is about to do.
What question would you like to ask God?
But even more, would you like God to ask you a question?
Hang on to your cart and enjoy the portal!