“Do you believe that God is with you, right now while the lightning crashes overhead and the creek rises below?”
The two college students I addressed had been leading all through the long hard day, and they glanced around them, their eyes wildly looking for some sense of safety and security. We had evacuated an ill member of the group earlier; rain had fallen all day; and the valleys around us were flash flooding.
Now, as darkness began to settle, lightning flashed as yet another wave of storms threatened us. These two young men had led well, but felt disoriented and unsure of how to lead any longer.
One looked at the ground, shame overwhelming him. The other glanced up with rain dripping off his hat and said, “I’m really struggling to trust that He even knows that we’re out here.”
The statement was honest and vulnerable, not the kind of answer you get when sitting in a comfortable chair in an air- conditioned classroom.
“Do you remember when the disciples were on the Sea of Galilee and a storm came up? What did Jesus ask His disciples?” I prodded.
The one who had been silent looked up suddenly with tears in his eyes and said, “Why are you so afraid?”
I paused taking in the holiness of the moment, “Sounds familiar. Why do you think Jesus asked them that question?”
There was another pause before one of the students said, “Jesus was right there with them in the middle of that storm. He was inviting them to trust that He is good and that He would take care of them.”
I smiled as we bowed our heads and prayed to the only One who could help us.
A well-aimed question and willingness to listen potentially unlocks a greater awareness and a true experience with God. Throughout Jesus’ ministry on this earth, we see countless examples of His directing concise questions to the disciples, the crowds, and the skeptics. But what he offered was more than a question with a plain answer. He was issuing an invitation directly to the heart, offering His very presence, and allowing space for individuals to discover something very true about Him, themselves, and the world around them. With questions and statements that turned their world upside down, Jesus created conditions that enhanced the probability that change or transformation would occur.
As a facilitator, I marvel at the invitations Jesus offered with one well-aimed statement or question directed at an individual or group. Questions like: “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” (Matt. 8:26), “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” (Matt. 9:28), and “But what about you? Who do you say I am?” (Matt. 16:15).
Jesus doesn’t ask these questions with a spirit of superiority or judgment; He asks with genuine curiosity born out of love. To answer His questions, we must reflect and willingly, humbly searching the depths of our hearts.
And what is He inviting us to?
He is inviting us to a place of surrender, a place where we may need to relinquish our previous understanding and self-sufficiency in order to fully experience His power, love, and truth.
In each of the above scenarios and in our present situations, Jesus does not just ask a question and leave us to flounder. No, He remains present with us as we allow His questions to really sink in. He watches with eyes of love, listens without judgment, and responds by directing us toward the truth that comes through experience. What a gift He gives us as He promises, “I am with you always” (Matt. 28:20)!
His presence allows struggle.
He does not rescue us from adversities, rather He walks with us through them and redirects us to see the world from a new point of view. He provides accountability and truth when we get off track. And He is patient with us, willing to wait, not providing answers, but allowing space for discovery. When we consider that the disciples, who struggled with doubt and fear and uncertainty as they followed after Jesus, were the same ones Christ sent into the world, we can only exclaim, “What a transformation!” His invitation to us is no different. We struggle with fear, uncertainty, and doubt and yet He facilitates our journey farther into His loving presence.
The morning after the storm, our group awoke to discover that those two young men had landed us less than 100 yards from our destination. Their eyes were wide with wonder as they experienced God’s personal invitation not to be afraid and to trust that He was with them, guiding them, and caring for them. God’s love and the ways He intentionally facilitates us on our journey with Him are truly a gift!
“Yet, O Lord, you are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand” (Isaiah 64:8).
Questions for Reflection:
Have you had an experience with God that created greater understanding of His Word?
What is one question God is inviting you to consider?
Who do you say that He is?