Friday, February 1, 2013

Living in the Questions

This blog entry is a revision of an article of mine that was published in Rest Ministries’ Hopekeepers magazine. It appeared in the 
January/February/March issue, 2006. 

Living in the Questions

My first Bible is a bit heavier than when I first received it as a gift from a friend decades ago. Yes, it contains the life- giving words of God; many of them underlined as they have given me inspiration over the years. Dates are scribbled by them and often a note of what was happening in my life a the time. Yet strewn among its many pages, I’ve other mementos: 

 a few favorite photos of loved ones, 
 timely words of encouragement from friends,
 a  scrawled note from one of my third grade students
 in 1988 saying, 
Miss S you are nise,

a very dried eucalyptus leaf I snitched from a tree 
at sunrise by the Sea of Galilee,

a dried bougainvillea bloom from Cana in Galilee,

and other paper bits that hold significance for me.

Close to thirty years ago, I cut out a written piece in a church bulletin and added it to this collection. To the best of my recall, it was written by Chuck Swindoll. It is but a small scrap, so tiny that there are times I have not been able to find it when purposely looking for it!  It reads:
  
“It is your future.
Don’t back into it.
Don’t grope into 
its mists blindfolded.
Put the hand of your faith 
into the Hand of God.
Get used to His voice.
He warns you of dangers 
and of strangers.
He leads you to experience 
His prepared future.
It does not disappoint.
There is always more
 for those 
who walk with Him.
He straightens question marks
 into exclamation points!”


Many questions about my future were present when I first read these thoughts. More have emerged over these ensuing years. 


There is my daily challenge since 1983
with vestibular dysfunction, 
constant dizziness, 
flares of internal spinning of literal vertigo and
related visual and balance issues.

I underwent breast cancer surgery 
in 1987 and
 chemotherapy treatments for six months.

There was my early retirement 
from my teaching career in 1992,

the death of loved ones,

wonderings about decisions 
that needed to be made in many areas,

and the list could go on. 


Somewhere along the trail of my life with this bulletin excerpt, I got to thinking more deeply about the message it presented. I came to a conclusion that brought me an encouraging perspective.

What could it mean - what would it look like - to really live within the questions in my life? 

A question marks the spot of a seeking moment.
 It stops me. 
I  want the right answer. 
I  want it now!

Often I discover that the right answer requires a different timing than my  insistent now. In such cases all I can really do is wait. 

I picture the literal configuration of the punctuation question mark with its curves and swirl. 

What if I were to crawl right into a question mark? 
This would curl me into the fetal position as in the birth canal, 
quietly waiting upon the Lord. 

I would need to depend upon him much as I had to totally depend upon him during my own gestation time. Then, I had no other option but to wait. Now, I can make a choice on how I will wait. 

When the answer is ready, 
the birthing takes place
and 
reconfigures the question mark   ? 
 into an exclamation point   !  .

Right timing, 
God’s timing. 
Right answer, 
 God’s answer.



Although I now keep this scrap of paper in my Bible with the Deuteronomy verses noted here
it could very well rest within other pages with highlighted inspiration,
perhaps some of these excerpts.




This first Scripture verse stayed me during the years I worked with primary aged students as an
 elementary classroom teacher! 

“He will feed his flock like a shepherd,
 he will gather the lambs in his arms, 
he will carry them in his bosom,and
 gently lead those that are with young”
(Isaiah 40:11 RSV).



July 5,1979 
sunrise on 
the Sea of Galilee
 5:20a.m.

I was alone watching the sunrise that morning. What a gift of time alone with God, watching Him start the day. I was led to the verse below. It reminded me of Jesus' need to seek the Father, question, grieve, wait for answers.


“Now when Jesus heard this, 
[death of John, the Baptist]
he withdrew from there in a boat 
to a lonely place apart” 
(Matthew 14:13a RSV)

July 6, 1979
inscription on the wall 
of the church in Cana of Galilee


“Cana proclaims to us that Jesus 
is the Lord Almighty 
Who turns water into wine,
Who still today, 
by one word, 
transform anything:
sorrow into joy,
mountains of difficulty 
into straight paths.
Do we bring our needs to him?”

August 7, 1987
This Scripture was given to me the morning of my cancer surgery.


He reached from on high, he took me,
he drew me out of many waters.

He delivered me from my strong enemy,
 and from those who hated me;
  for they were too mighty for me”

(Psalm 18:16-17 RSV).

February, 1988
This is a love note from my Mom 
at the completion 
of my chemotherapy treatments! 

IT’S OVER! 
PRAISE DE LAWD!! 
I LOVE YOU! 
MOM


The call on my life to be an encourager:

Comfort, 
comfort my people,
says your God” 
(Isaiah 40:1 RSV)


Oh, there are many encouragements such as these strewn throughout my well-worn Bible. 

The paper bits of mementos and noted verses reflect the asking and the answering of some but not all questions. There will always be more. If I choose to live in the questions, I am less likely to wander far. I want to be near to hear God’s voice exclaim the answers when His time is right. 

 “For everything there is 
a season, 
and a time for every matter 
under heaven
(Ecclesiastes 3:1 RSV).

Photo by Lynn




8 comments:

  1. Another inspiring and thought provoking post. Thank you, Lynn for sharing your heart.
    Love,
    Carole Leigh

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Carole Leigh for your kind comments.
      Continuing prayers for you as you are curled up in your question mark.
      May you know peace there as we pray you into that exclamation mark victory!
      Love,
      Lynn xo

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  2. Beautifully written and oh so inspiring. Thank U!
    Blessings of Peace and HOPE,

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Belle - love receiving your blessings of peace and HOPE!
      You are the HOPE Queen!
      Love,
      Lynn

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  3. Another inspiring piece of writing, Lynn. It has made me stop and think, once again. You have a beautiful way of conveying your thoughts and I thank you for sharing them with us.
    Love you very much!
    Heather

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Heather - my joy to share.
      I am glad you were inspired!
      Love to you, too!
      Lynn

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  4. Lovely thoughts, Lynn. I too have a collection of special things in my Bible ... pictures, notes from little ones, things that remind me of loved ones passed on. What better place to keep such treasures!

    What a beautiful picture of "living the questions" by resting in the curve of the question mark. That's about the most creative thing I've heard in a long while.

    Keep writing friend!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Lori!

      I do agree that our Bible is the right place to tuck in heartfelt mementos of these types as they are a tangible sign of what we are carrying in our hearts already.

      I loved it when God slipped this message to me about the question mark and crawling into it. I had also thought of how the actual question mark ( ? ) is configured like an ear - so we are near to hear!

      I always love your stopping by my blog and reading your encouraging comments! I need to wander over and check out your blog - hope you are making progress with some of your New Year goals!

      Hugs to you -
      Lynn

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