Deep Thought, Douglas Adams's super computer from The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

I don’t know the right question to ask

I’m a geek. Fair warning. Just in case you didn’t know that already. But I’m geekier than most because I can make references to a lesser known science fiction British satire novel, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. You can learn a lot by reading this cornucopia of sarcasm and hilarious Britishness, including how bowls of petunias think, what dolphins are really saying, and the answer to life, the universe, and everything.

No, really. The answer to life, the universe, and everything.

See, in this story, an ancient race brought on the two most brilliant people of their age and had them design and build the greatest super computer ever constructed, for the sole purpose of having it tell them the answer to life, the universe, and everything. And after around 7 million years, the computer was ready to tell them the answer.

Ready for this?

42.

Yes, that’s the answer to life, the universe, and everything. And if that answer confuses you, the computer simply explains that it would make sense if you know the right question to ask.

Today’s verses are Job 36:22-26 and Job 37:23-24.

Deep Thought, Douglas Adams's super computer from The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

Deep Thought, Douglas Adams’s super computer from The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

“Look, God is all-powerful.
Who is a teacher like him?
 No one can tell him what to do,
or say to him, ‘You have done wrong.’
 Instead, glorify his mighty works,
singing songs of praise.
Everyone has seen these things,
though only from a distance.
Look, God is greater than we can understand.
His years cannot be counted….

We cannot imagine the power of the Almighty;
but even though he is just and righteous,
he does not destroy us.
No wonder people everywhere fear him.
All who are wise show him reverence.”

These are the words of Elihu, one of the not-so-friendly friends who were “helping” Job into a nervous breakdown on the worst day of his life. And maybe Elihu had misinterpreted Job’s situation (no maybe about it), but what he has to say to Job isn’t necessarily wrong.

If you had the opportunity to ask God any question, what would it be? What would you ask Him? Would you want to know why you lost your job or why someone you love passed away? Would you ask why a child is diagnosed with an incurable illness or why sick people have to suffer so much? Would you ask Him why He didn’t just start over after humanity screwed His perfect plan up? Would you ask Him why He allowed Satan to live, knowing the damage he would cause?

So many unanswered questions. And we all like to have our questions answered. We don’t like not knowing.

But have you ever asked yourself what you would do with the answer if you got it?

If you asked your impossible question and God gave you your answer, what would you do? How would you react? What would change?

I’m just like everyone else probably is. Unanswered questions leave me unsatisfied, discontent, unsettled. But something I’ve learned over the years is that I’m never going to know all the answers. And even if I did, I don’t think I would understand them. Because, honestly, I don’t even know the right questions to ask.

You can ask any question. God doesn’t sit up in heaven rolling His eyes at our dumb questions. Well, maybe He does, but that doesn’t mean He loses patience with us. But what hit me yesterday as I sat thinking about questions we would ask God is that even if God answered our questions, I’m not sure we would understand the answer.

Why?

Well, God is so much bigger than we are. God’s thoughts are so much greater. Can we even comprehend how massive He is? How huge? How mighty?

Maybe Elihu, Job’s friend, had misinterpreted Job’s situation, but he wasn’t wrong about God. We can’t understand God. We can’t wrap our heads around Him because He is infinite, and we are finite. Granted, we have the Holy Spirit living in us, if we’ve chosen to follow Jesus, but that doesn’t mean we get to grasp God. That just means we have a way to talk to Him and that we have some insight into why.

It’s like an adult trying to explain something to a child. An adult has to dumb down the answer so the child can understand, but in dumbing down the answer, an adult can’t explain what’s really going on. Because the child won’t understand. And I really think it’s the same way between us and God.

It’s not that He’s holding back. It’s not that He’s keeping information from us. It’s not that He wants to frustrate us. It’s just that if He tried to explain, if He tried to answer our questions the way we wanted, we wouldn’t understand.

That’s not to say we should stop asking questions. No! God wants us to ask questions. God wants us to dive deeper into a relationship with Him, and that means asking as many questions as you can think of. But sometimes you aren’t going to understand the answer you get. And that doesn’t mean the answer is wrong. It probably just means you aren’t asking the right question.

So think about it. Pray about it. And move on. If you don’t understand it yet, maybe you’re not supposed to. But that doesn’t mean you never will.

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Pretty flower at the Dallas Arboretum, Dallas, TX

Questioning your faith can make it stronger

One night this week, as I was driving home, I noticed a big flashing sign that said a part of the highway would be shut down. I made a mental note, but I didn’t worry about it because the sign said it would be open during the times I normally travel.

So I got on the road the next morning and approached the highway junction, and I was surprised to see a sign that said: Right Lane Closed Ahead!

Well, the other sign had said it would be open. Was it wrong?

Not wanting to take any chances, I jumped into the left lane and continued on. And continued on. And continued on. And surprise, surprise, surprise—the right lane wasn’t closed after all.

I could have trusted that first sign, but I wasn’t sure.

Has that ever happened to you in your faith? You heard the truth first and then someone contradicted it and you questioned your beliefs?

It’s happened to me. I think I know what I believe and then someone I respect or someone who I think knows more than I do tells me I’m wrong. And it shakes me. And I spend a lot of wasted time worrying that I’ve been making the wrong decisions.

I used to stress myself out, but that doesn’t really accomplish anything. I don’t learn anything from it, that’s for sure.

What I have learned to do is to go to the source when I have a question. If it’s a question about work, I go to my boss. If it’s a question about writing, I go to books I trust. If it’s a question of faith, I go to the Bible.

Pretty flower at the Dallas Arboretum, Dallas, TX

Pretty flower at the Dallas Arboretum, Dallas, TX

Today’s verses are 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

The Bible claims to be the Word of God over and over again, which is different than any other religious type of manuscript. I spent nearly 1,000 words yesterday morning on how the Bible is different from other books, so I won’t rehash that here. Here I’m just going to assume that if you’re a Christ-follower, you believe the Bible.

The Bible should be our go-to source for how to live our lives. Not talk shows. Not 12-step guides. Not our friends. And not even our family members. Yes, consult them. Yes, get their thoughts. Consider their opinions. But realize that the one source for truth is the Bible.

Why? Because the Bible came from God. God inspired the writers of the Bible to pen the words He wanted so that throughout the ages, God could speak to His people.

If you want to build a house, you have to know your foundation is strong. If you want to sit on a chair, you have to know it’s going to support your weight. And if you want to make a difficult choice about your faith, you should know that what you’re being told is true.

It’s okay to question what you’ve been told. It doesn’t matter if it’s your pastor of 20 years. It doesn’t matter if it’s your best friend of 10 years. Your parents? Your siblings? Your coworkers?

I’m not saying don’t trust them. I’m just saying think twice before you put your life in the hands of someone else’s interpretation of Truth without checking it out for yourself.

In the end, the person responsible for your walk is you. The person who will be held accountable for his or her choices is you. You won’t be able to shift the blame because God knows your heart. So you’d better be sure you know what you believe and why, and when someone questions what you believe (and they will), you’d better be prepared to seek an answer in the right place.

Christians can be the most critical people on Earth. We think we know best, not only for ourselves but for everyone else around us. And maybe we’re just trying to help, but I really think in many instances we do more harm than good, especially when we preach at people and refuse to actually help them when they need it.

So don’t let someone’s disagreement shake you. People will disagree with you, and that’s okay. Sometimes you have to agree to disagree. But that doesn’t mean your faith has to get weaker.

Actually, when you have a question about your faith and you take the time and make the effort to seek the answer in the Bible and ask God for His help, you’ll find your faith gets stronger.