Do you ever have recurring spiritual questions? Like recurring dreams, they keep coming up over and over, sometimes for years. In high school and college I had a question that came up every few months, but I felt I could never get a straight answer. I was wrestling with the “works” part of my faith. Where do “works” come from? Do I just decide to do things for God and that’s how I show my faith or do I focus so much on God that my actions are a natural byproduct of my relationship? To me, the first seemed too contrived and the second seemed nearly impossible. I prayed that God would show me the answer. How am I supposed to live, Lord? I wanted Him to just open me to the right page in the Bible. When I asked Christians I knew and looked up to, I received vague advice that left me confused and feeling that maybe no one really knew the answer. I knew that seeking the truth was important. Understanding this was crucial to how I lived my life. It affected the very core of how I operated as a person. But when I didn’t get an answer right away, my desire to seek faded out as other “pressing” matters crept in: school projects, relationships, and even things at church. I could almost tell what was happening during quiet times with the Lord-I wasn’t looking, I wasn’t asking. I would soon forget all about my questions and my spiritual seeking would be pacified for a few more months.
Here’s some advice: When a spiritual question starts to gnaw at you and you can’t stop thinking about it, don’t stop until you find an answer. Don’t let it slip away like so many other spiritual things have a tendency to do. Write it down and carry it around in your pocket. Post it on the mirror in your bathroom. Keep asking and keep seeking. God has allowed that question in your life so you would seek after Him and come to know Him better. He wants you to ask and seek, but He won’t do your work for you. Oswald Chambers wrote, “The reason for asking is so you may get to know God better…We should keep praying to get a perfect understanding of God Himself.” You see, it’s not so much the answer to your question that is important, but asking the question and seeking the answer brings you into a closer relationship with God-you’ve come to know Him in a new way. You have experienced God.
Oftentimes, we don’t hear from God because we don’t wait for His response. Many of us have spiritual ADD-we can’t pay attention to anything for more than a few minutes. We make a request and then get caught up with what’s going on around us and cannot focus on the spiritual world long enough to see what happens.
It’s not easy to be focused spiritually-diligently seeking and waiting for God. It’s like trying to read when the TV’s on. Life is loud and flashy. It forces us to look at it and lose ourselves in it. It seems impossible to stay focused on something so quiet and still, something that doesn’t demand our attention. But we must. We must force ourselves to do it. We can’t turn the TV off. Life will continue to blare in our ears and flash in our peripheral vision until the day we die. But somehow we must turn our eyes upon Jesus.
My own question has slowly been answered over time. The Lord has brought wisdom and insight through a few books and devotionals that have come my way. I know that the Lord put those things in my path to guide me and show me the truth when I needed it and because I asked for it. When it comes to works, I’ve learned that we are intended to “abide in the vine” first and foremost and the rest will follow.
Seeking God takes effort. Continue to ask questions. Continue to listen. Wait in excited anticipation of God. Don’t give up if His response is not immediate or if it is not what you wanted to hear. Remember, it is God Himself-not His answers-that we seek.
Originally Published May 20, 2003