Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Questions vs. Questioning - An Christmas Meditation

It's funny how things in my life often line up with things happening in the Church Season.  Usually, that means "Ordinary Time," (the majority of the Church Year).  I would say that best reflects our to-and-fro life - Ordinary. Not in a bad way, just regular ol' life.

But every once and awhile, dots connect and stars align.

My sweet Sophia is in a tough year.  It's called Year 8.  On top of that, she is in 3rd Grade.  I've gone through this once, so I knew it was coming, but it is still tough.  You aren't a little kid anymore but you aren't completely a big kid yet either.  Still, you are required to think like a big kid, which your brain and body are not always ready for.  On top of that, Sophia is a July birthday, so she is one of the youngest in her class.  It can be frustrating for her to figure out what is really expected of her.

That translate into a lot of training and discipline in our house right now.  Discipline specifically for things like back talk, little white lies and "omission" type offenses where you were just not motivated enough to get done what Momma asked you to do (in the time she asked you to do it).  There is always the middle sister factor, too, with a big sister on one side, who is generally Johnny-on-the-spot; and the little sister on the other, who gets away with a lot more than you do.  It's rough.

In the midst of this, the Lord is working on growing one fruit of the Spirit in particular in me: gentleness.  This is not my natural state of being when my kids disobey or are disrespectful.  I'm much more likely to bring down the hammer than be merciful and forgiving. 

Which is no doubt why the Lord is testing and proving me on this particular virtue, especially with Sophia.  We have so much history of me having to push, cajole and flat out make her do stuff - from my days as her caregiver.  The Lord redeemed that, but the reality is still working itself out in my parenting style.

Plus, out of all 3 daughters, Sophia is most like me.  There is a lot of iron sharpening iron going on right now and the sparks tend to fly..

Most of my grievances come in the form of her questioning my authority.  She asks a lot of questions, to be sure, but it's gone to a new level.  Lately, when she asks me a question, her whole attitude towards me (which I can read on her face) is: "Mother, you have no idea what you are talking about!"

On Sunday, I was inspired to ask her if she knew the difference between asking for information and questioning me.

She didn't, so I explained like this: It comes down to heart.  Question asking is ok, because you are looking for clarity and understanding.  Questioning means you doubt the authority/credibility/integrity of the person you are interacting with.  One is purely for information (question asking).  The other is an effort to stand your ground because you feel you are right and the other person is wrong (questioning).

It just so happened, on Monday at Ms. Janice's house for prayer, we read the Christmas story, including Luke's account.  It was then I saw the Biblical illustration of this principle of doubt of intention (questioning) vs. confirmation of action (questions).

It plays out with 2 people: Zechariah and Mary. 

In summary: in Luke 1:5-25, Zechariah loses his voice because he questioned the plan of God, told to him by the angel Gabriel.  Even though he and his wife were old enough to be grandparents, they
would have a son who would declare the Messiah's arrival.  That son ended up being John the Baptist, the last prophet to the Jews.  However, even in the middle of the Temple, on the Jewish high-holiest day of the year, Zechariah didn't believe what this messenger from on high was saying.  He doubted, he balked.  Zechariah flat out did not believe God!

In contrast, from Luke 1:26-38, there is Mary, the mother of Jesus, also being visited by Gabriel.  He brings her some outrageous news too.  He says, "You, my dear, you teenage virgin, are going to get pregnant and that child is going to be the Son of God."  Mary had questions, good ones, in fact.  But she didn't lose her voice because Gabriel was able to see the intention behind those questions.  Unlike Zechariah, who asked with doubt, fear and rebellion in his heart; Mary asked from a heart just wanted to know how all this was going to work, so she could respond appropriately.

This is not the revelation for me, although this has been communicated to the people of God down through the ages: Zechariah doubted, Mary didn't.

What hit me was: despite the initial questions, even in doubt and disbelief, Zechariah came around.  He and Mary, both, ended up acting in faith.  They obeyed the Lord becoming major contributors in the plans and purposes of the Almighty Savior, come to earth. 

It's true, Jesus would come regardless of their participation.  God could have found other vessels, but He saw past Zechariah's doubt.  God stayed with him, even as He disciplined him for his unbelief.  Mary was blessed because she believed outright.  Zechariah, even in his reluctance obedience, ended up being blessed too.

Our God is that faithful.  He is that merciful.  

Even when eternity is on the line, He doesn't forsake us.  His Promises were fulfilled and the people He asked to be involved were willing - even if the process of getting them there was different.

That gives me a lot of hope for Sophia and myself.  It renews my faith in our Great God, who is more than capable of handling our doubts, our rejection, our disbelief - and yes, even our disobedience...and still doing wonderful things in and through our lives.

Because of this awareness now, I can be more gentle with Sophia in her questioning and patient with her questions.  I don't have to be fed up with it.  I can (and will) remember this stage isn't the last one, or the last time, we will face doubt, disbelief and disobedience with our kids.

This, too, shall pass.
Because the church season of Advent is when we remember God's first incarnation and look ahead in anticipation of His Second Coming, I am reassured.  Zechariah and Mary remind me of a singular truth.  It proves without a doubt, the God of Heaven is involved here on Earth.  Praise God from Whom all Blessings Flow....even when we have to be convinced to receive them....in faith, eventually, we will.

1 comment:

Janice and James said...

Precious!!! Thanks....you always do a super job helping us see God's truth!!