What’s This?

The Secret Life
November 16, 2010
Mama, It’s the Cross!
December 15, 2010

What’s This?


“What’s Zis, Mama?” Grace asks.
“That’s a tractor” I say.
“Ooooo… Twactor…What’s zis?”
“That’s a baby cow.”
“Ooooo. Baby cow.” “What’s zis?”

… And the question continues. “What’s this?” is Gracie’s favorite question. I’m pretty sure “Why?” will be next in her “stages of development” but for now Doug and I are amazed by Grace’s curiosity and, basically, at how the human mind seeks to know. It is our natural inclination to look for answers. Grace, like most children, looks to her parents to find the answers that allow her to understand the world.

We may all grow up, but do we ever really grow out of looking for “the answers” or trying to understand the world? When we are truly honest with ourselves, do any of us really have life all figured out? Daily we try to get a grasp on it, our relationships, our circumstances, even our very existence. When Doug and I were talking about Grace’s current “What’s this?” curiosity, he commented that we are all going somewhere to find answers. Right now, Grace is looking to us, but some day she may go looking elsewhere. Our hope is to lay a strong enough foundation in her that she will continue to look to us, good mentors or friends, and ultimately to the Lord for answers. But there are plenty of world views out there competing to be “it” for her, and really for all of us. Each view promises to be THE answer to our one big question about the world: “Well, what is THIS???”

People look for the answer to this question in everything from spirituality to secularism, from post-modernism to materialism, from success to service, from sex and drugs to piety and purity, from politics to religion. It’s often easier to look out in the world to find our “answers.” But this is not the safest place to look, and we pay a price by “following the crowd” in our quest for understanding. I am amazed at the wisdom found in Ephesians 4:17-19. From The Message {Eugene Petersons’ modern translation of the Bible} we see this truth:

“And so I insist— and God backs me up on this— that there be no going along with the crowd. They’ve refused for so long to deal with God that they have lost touch not only with God but with reality itself. They can’t think straight anymore. Feeling no pain, they let themselves go… addicted to every sort of perversion”

Looking out in the world for answers will only get us more lost in it and confused about it. We need someone safe who we can always go to “get answers.” Like Grace trusts and looks to me and Doug to explain her world, we must look to our Father—that is our Father in Heaven— to find the answers that will help us deal with the world and understand who we are in it.

Some people encourage us to go inward to find answers. “Search your heart,” and “Follow your heart” are popular phrases. But as God’s word says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.” (Jeremiah 17:9) Our own hearts participate in the delusions that separate us from truth— from the real answers. We cannot really know our own hearts. As such to “search our hearts” is not a dependable place to “find” ourselves or the answers we seek about the world. Proverbs tells us not to be wise in our own eyes, but to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding…” (Proverbs 3:5) In essence, this means we cannot look either inward or outward for our answers. We must look upward.

In looking upward we allow God to give us understanding about the world “outside.” In looking upward we also allow God to search our hearts. He is the only one who can truly know and understand us. Our hearts are a constant conflict of good and evil. Only the Lord can reveal what selfishness, duplicity and evil we are really capable of, and only He has the power to transform that. It is God’s job to search our hearts. We are to “watch” or “guard” them. This means we take care to filter what has access to our hearts and what comes out of them. Let it be the Father, and not all the other competing world views that advertise false promises for answers about truth, knowledge and understanding. Only when we look upward can we then proceed to see honestly inward and learn the lessons he has for us about the world outside and the world inside.

Really the process of “figuring out” the world and “finding” ourselves is not so much about getting answers as it is about gaining wisdom. Wisdom is being able to see and navigate through the complex reality in which we exist. If we want to be able to deal with reality— if we truly want wisdom, we need to go to God. For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.(Proverbs 2:6) I don’t know about you, but if God is giving something out- I want it! And I know I do not want to be one of those Jesus refers to as the: … ever hearing but never understanding; … ever seeing but never perceiving in Matthew 13:14. YIKES!

God, like any parent, longs for his children to come to him with their questions, so much so he beckons us to: Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them. (Proverbs 4: 4-5) And when we do rely on our Father, kneeling at his feet to listen to his teachings and write them on our hearts, the rewards we gain are great:

“I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered, when you run you will not stumble.” Proverbs 4:10-12

It is only with God’s answers, his guidance and wisdom that we can navigate life without swerving off course, or stumbling over obstacles. He is the creator of the universe. From his imagination spawned the intricacies of each fiber of our being. That we breathe from moment to moment is a miracle, a work of art sprung from his ingenuity. Why wouldn’t we go to Him for answers? Why wouldn’t we take our “What’s this?” questions to Him?

Jesus is our prime example of taking everything to the Lord, remaining fully dependent on the Father for his “answers.” From teaching the multitudes to challenging the Pharisees, from discerning when to perform miracles to how to answer Pilate at his trial, from managing the complex relationships of his disciples to facing death on a cross: Jesus’ reliance on the Father— his constant looking upward— gave him the wisdom and the strength to navigate the path set before him. And so it goes for us as well.

Doug & I once saw a bumper sticker on an old vintage RV that said: BIBLE is really an acronym for: Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth! A truth set in humor. You know, the more I read the Bible the more I see that the answers to everything, literally everything, are already with us. People wring their hands and say “we don’t have the answer,” or “we must find the answer.” But the truth is that God’s word has endured for thousands of years, living and breathing the same applicable truth— the “answers” we are all looking for in every generation. All we need to do is dive into Him and seek.

We must remember, however, that His ways are not our ways. We may not get “answers” by our human definition, but if we seek earnestly we WILL gain wisdom and understanding. God in his infinite love for us will give us revelation enough to satisfy our cravings to know as we seek. So, “Seek and you shall find.” Go to the Father. Ask Him your “What’s THIS?” questions and get wisdom… get understanding… get all the “answers” you are really looking for.