Wednesday, January 5th, 2011...10:57 am
Yes, Questions Asked
There are at least two meanings for “ask”:
1. To make a request or petition of
2. To inquire
I ask (#1) God for many, many things.
I ask for pruning. (“Lord, purge anything that You don’t want in me.”) I ask for death to self. (“Lord, may it truly be not I, but Christ in me who lives.”) I ask for guidance, as Moses did in Exodus 33:15, desiring and determined to go only where He wants me to go: “If Your presence does not go with us, do not send us out from here.” I ask for wisdom. I ask for many, many things.
When I asked (#1) God how He wants me to change, He said, “Ask” (#2).
“I filed for divorce,” she said.
It was her answer to my “. . . and how can I pray for you?”
Clueless, I felt like she opened a book to give me page 700 of her story, so I asked her out to coffee. I wanted to know what happened on pages 1 to 699.
It’s a shame. What kind of person can know a woman for five years and be completely ignorant that, for the past five years, this woman has been separated from her husband who moved out and left her?
I am that kind of person. (But I pray that, by God’s power, I can now say that in the past tense: I was that kind of person.) I was oblivious of a friend’s deepest wounds and pains for five whole years.
In a sobering answer to my daily prayers, God showed me that my lack of heart-involvement and genuine interest in this woman’s life was such that I had no clue. I thought she was happily married. The truth was, I never asked.
I remember my junior high days. Everyone in my little group of friends knew everything about everyone else. I felt they were pushy, nosy gluttons for gossip and information. They didn’t think twice about asking the most probing and personal questions. I wasn’t like that and determined not to become like that. I never probed; I asked no questions. If someone wanted to tell me something personal, I’d let her tell me on her own initiative.
But I grew into someone who has taken that too far. I do need to ask people questions about themselves, not like a meddling gossip but by way of invitation: I’m interested in your life. Won’t you tell me about it?
One of God’s new directions for me is grace—not the receiving of it (I seem to have no problem with that) but the giving of it. I want gracious friendliness, compassion, heart-involvement, selfless love, and genuine interest in the deep and important things of another’s life.
. . . practice kindness and compassion each to his brother.
- Zechariah 7:9
Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
- Philippians 2:4
Father, help me grow in this. Thank you for hearing my prayers about dying to self and for helping me realize that death to self is not only about my relationship with You but also my relationships with the people around me, the people You love and want me to love. Please, give me Your compassion. Grow in me a genuine and eager interest in others so that I hear their answers with attentive and truly listening ears and heart. Help me learn to gently ask questions, inviting others to open their stories to me. Help me observe those who are strong in this area, that I may emulate their examples.
Thank You for bringing this lack to my attention instead of leaving me where I was.