When I was young, I was a very curious child and asked a lot of questions. Like A LOT. I remember this one time I asked my 4th grade Sunday School teacher why God chose to even bother creating humans if he knew everything that was going to happen and that we were just going to sin in the garden and screw things up. My teacher, Dave, then spent the next 90 minutes (including well after church ended), explaining to me his version of the answer to that incredibly complex, difficult question. He answered with such certainty. I don’t remember exactly what he said or even acknowledging that is a hard question and we might not know the answer to it. I felt like the point of that long, drawn out conversation was for me to get the answer and in the future for me to act with more certainty and less doubt, curiosity or questioning.
I think a lot of Christians could probably relate to this concept. It seems like many of us are taught to lose that childlike curiosity along the way. While we encourage kids to ask questions, as adults we often feel like we ought to have it all figured out and that any hint of doubt is simply the work of the enemy. If you’ve been a Christian for that many years, you should be more confident by now.
This past weekend we had a Day Away at Windrush, and the word “curiosity” came up so many times. I loved witnessing so many people encounter and wrestle with God and to just watch how he always shows up uniquely as people process their own questions with him and the community.
Maybe certainty can be helpful in some situations and of course certain truths are essential. But I do think that there is an authenticity when we are real with God and acknowledge our doubts and our questions. I think God is curious and I believe he loves engaging with our own questions and wrestling with our own doubts with him, just like any good parent does.
The Bible is chock full of things that don’t make sense to me, things that I can’t understand or comprehend. I have doubts all the time. Why did God really flood the entire earth killing almost all of the humanity he created? Was that really the only way? Couldn’t he have known that was going to happen? Why did blood have to be spilled to create forgiveness? Why does the God of the Old Testament seem so different at times than the person of Jesus? The list goes on… The good news is that this is nothing new and that pretty much every person ever in the Bible had questions for God (even Jesus’ final question on the cross was asking his father why he was being forsaken).
I read a quote from Rob Bell’s Velvet Elvis a recently and it resonated with me:
“A question by its very nature acknowledges that the person asking the question does not have all the answers. And because the person does not have all the answers, they are looking outside of themselves for guidance. Questions, no matter how shocking or blasphemous or arrogant or raw, are rooted in humility. A humility that understands that I am not God. And there is more to know. Questions bring freedom. Freedom that I don’t have to be God and I don’t have to pretend that I have it all figured out. I can let God be God.”
I am really grateful that we serve a God who encourages curiosity invites our questions. That seems freeing to me. I believe he likes it when we come to him and bring our authentic, broken, unsure, raw selves before him. In my experience, I usually don’t just get an answer. Instead I am reminded about my own dependence on a Good, Loving Father who cares so deeply about me, and how he wants to use my own curiosity, questions, ingenuity and even my doubts, to see, relate to and love others in unique and distinct ways.