Shaggy mule at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Before you ask, make sure you want an answer

Have you ever asked a question you didn’t want to know the answer to? I think we all have at some point or another. I know I’ve certainly gotten answers I didn’t want to hear, and when someone tells me something I don’t want to know, I usually react the same way: denial. If it’s an answer I don’t want to hear, I deny its truth. I try to come up with another explanation. Or I ignore it altogether.

And I suppose asking more questions about an answer you don’t like from a boss or a friend or a family member is a good idea. It’s always a good idea to look for the truth, and you can’t always trust that another person is going to tell you the truth. But I’ve learned over the years that if God answers in a way you don’t want, denying it doesn’t help you.

Shaggy mule at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Shaggy mule at the Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS

Today’s verses are Psalm 95:7-8.

For he is our God.
We are the people he watches over,
    the flock under his care.
If only you would listen to his voice today!
The Lord says, “Don’t harden your hearts as Israel did at Meribah,
     as they did at Massah in the wilderness.

God wants us to search for Him. He wants us to reach out in the darkness and find Him, like Paul talks about in his message on Mars Hill in Acts 17 (we just finished up a series about it at church), and He always answers. Not always immediately in a way we can discern, but He always answers. The trouble is, do you want an answer? I think that’s the question we all need to settle before we start seeking Him. It’s easy to search. In fact, it’s expected in our culture now. Everyone searches for something, but some people find their identity in the search instead of in the answers they get.

I know people who are perfectly content to search for God for the rest of their lives, and I don’t suppose there’s anything wrong with that. But they’re making it way too difficult. God isn’t hard to find. He’s plainer than the noses on our faces, but He’s not popular. He’s not politically correct. And He answers our questions in a way that makes us realize how much we need Him, and that’s a hard pill to swallow if you want to live life on your own terms.

So ask yourself before you ask Him if you really want an answer. I’ve asked questions out of duty before and ignored the answers because I didn’t like them. Not only was it a waste of time for the person I was asking, I didn’t learn anything. True, later on I wished I’d paid attention, but that’s often how it goes. If you spurn wisdom when you hear it, you won’t have it when you need it.

God’s answers will probably upset you. Just prepare yourself for that because many times we want our own way. We don’t want to submit to His, and we have this idea that if God is good, He’ll let us do what we want. But it doesn’t work that way. It never has, and you don’t have to believe in God or follow Christ to understand that’s not how wisdom works. If you’re honest with yourself, you already know that.

God wants to talk to you. He wants to have a relationship with you. He loves you more than you can imagine, and He wants the best for you. He knows what’s best for you. But we are all like stubborn, willful children who throw tantrums when we don’t get our way, but God is a good parent and doesn’t give in. And we have to learn to accept His answers the first time He gives them to us. Why? Because it will save us a lot of heartache in the long run.

God doesn’t answer us in ways that make us unhappy to deprive us of our fun. He’s not trying to squash us or prevent us from living our lives. He’s trying to bless us. He’s trying to give us a better life than we can ever earn on our own, the kind of life where you have no regrets. Because if you twist off on your own, believe me, you’ll have regrets. And there’s nothing more poisonous to a happy life than regrets.

Do you want God’s answers? Are you willing to listen to what He has to say, even if it isn’t what you want? It’s your choice, but you need to get it settled in your heart before you ask. You need to check your attitude. Sometimes I forget and when God tells me something I don’t want to hear, I block it out, only to get down the road a day or so and wish I’d listened.

He knows what He’s talking about, and He’s worth listening to. Don’t shut Him out, and don’t harden your heart to Him. He wants the best for all of us, even if it doesn’t feel like it right now.