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(053) Simple Questions

Simple Question

Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda[a] and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” – John 5:2-6 NIV 1984


Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”


The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!”


Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. – Matthew 20:30-32 NIV 1984


You may have noticed this already more as a sense in your heart than an acknowledgement in your mind, but Jesus very rarely just invades our lives. He does not overpower our will to make us better people … nicer, kinder, forgiving, loving, hopeful, thankful, or anything else for that matter.


As with the two blind men and the paralytic, he wants to know what we really want. And so, he asks us questions. Simple questions that, if we are listening, have the power to lead us into abundant life.


He asks not because he doesn’t know what we need but because he wants us to know too. Often, we have been in situations for so long that we get comfortable with it in our head even if we are not in our heart. But the thing is, change is always disruptive and many times painful, even good change. And so, he asks us. We think we know what we want. It’s obvious right? Just look at me. Just look at my situation. But, like the blind men and the paralytic, all too often, the want in my head is not truly connected to the need in my heart.


There’s a scene from the movie The Legend of Bagger Vance that illustrates how Jesus works with questions in our lives.


One of the two lead characters, Rannulph Junuh, was a fantastic golfer, the hometown hero of Savanah, Georgia. He was on track to dominate the world of professional golf until World War I broke out and he was assigned to lead the company of men from Savanah.


During a devastating battle every member of his company was killed except for himself. Upon Junuh's return to Savanah, he had “Lost his swing.” Eventually, he is talked into playing in a golf tournament against the legendary Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen. At the end of the first round, Junuh is pretty demoralized having played horribly and being twelve strokes behind the two best golfers in the world. As he gets ready to hit his drive across the water to the 18th green. His caddy, Bagger Vance, offers him some advice.


Bagger: “May I make a suggestion to you? … Why don’t you just hook it out of bounds? Yeah, just carve it out over them pretty trees into the ocean. Really, just do what you been doin’. Then, you’ll be so far out the match, man, you can just relax. Enjoy ourselves the rest of the way.


Junuh:  He chuckles … “Yeah” with a joking smile. But as he looks back at Bagger. He considers the option.


Bagger: “What you waitin’ for? Go on. Just hook it to hell and gone. Put yourself out your misery.”


Junuh looks out toward the green for his shot. Then he looks off to the left into the water, considering what Bagger just said. Junuh takes a half-hearted shot. Not really meaning to hook it, but he does. Right into the water. Bagger gets another ball and walks up to Junuh, with everyone muttering in disappointment in the background, and asks Junuh the most important question of his life.


Bagger: “You want to quit, Mr. Junuh?


You can just go ahead and creep off somewhere. I’ll tell folks you took sick. Truth be told, ain’t nobody gonna really object. Fact, they’d probably be happy as bugs in a bake shop, see you pack up and go home.


Junuh:  “You know I can’t quit.


Bagger: “I know. Just makin’ sure you know it too.


Jesus asks us these simple questions too. Not with a condemning or accusatory tone but simply and mater-of-factly. He asks because we get comfortable with a situation, even a bad one, in our head and forget that there is more. As Blaise Pascal put it in Pensées, “The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of... We know the truth not only by the reason, but by the heart.” Our head knows self and what we see and know. Our heart knows God, no matter how dimly, and can see possibilities beyond ourselves.


Jesus has asked me two simple questions that have become foundational to how I live. Changing my course and aligning my head and my heart.


The first was, “Do you trust me?” A simple question during a time of moral failure and the possible destruction of my home and family.


The second was, “Is your fear greater than my love?” Again, a simple question. But one that brought clarity to his place in my life like nothing else could have.


It is Jesus’ simple questions which bring us clarity and lead us into deeper union with himself. Life to the full. Abundant Life. But we can’t answer a question we don’t hear. And, so, we pray – “Lord, give me ears to hear. Amen. 


Shared in love Beloved!

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