Posted tagged ‘Why’

Answering the Why

August 4, 2019

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                        August 4, 2019


A friend of mine lost her husband two days ago in a traffic accident. He was 45 and they are the parents of five children, the youngest two adopted as a result of their mission experiences in Africa.

They were in the midst of a move from Colorado Springs to another community about 30 minutes away when the accident happened. In other words, they had just uprooted from where they had lived for a long time to relocate to a place that is strange and new.

And I keep asking the question that has no suitable answer: Why would God allow someone so vital to so many other lives to be taken? 

It’s a question that gets rephrased and asked in numerous ways. We don’t understand tragedies. We cringe at the appearance of heartache, not just in our lives but also the lives of others. 

It’s convenient to theologize the pain with the unhelpful statement, “Who can understand the ways of God?” That’s about as useful as burlap toilet paper! (Sorry for the visual!)

There’s also a tendency to philosophize the wounds by talking about the side effects of a world that is highly developed and complex. Once again, that does not help. 

But we’re a society of answers, people that believe any question has a valid solution. We struggle with the idea that some questions don’t have agreeable answers.

My life is littered with unanswerable “whys”. Why did my mom have to suffer with Parkinson’s in the last few years of her life, a form of the disease that caused her to lose the functioning of her arms and legs, and effected her ability to speak?

Why did my friend and mentor, Ben Dickerson, have a heart attack and pass away at the age of 65 when he had no apparent signs of heart problems? That question still haunts me 11 years later.

Why did a gunman open fire in an El Paso shopping mall yesterday, killing 20 people? 

Why do bad things happen to good people? 

There is an unsettledness in my spirit this morning as I consider the numbing grief that my friend is experiencing. Two days ago the family of seven moved boxes into their new home, and now life has become uncertain and grey.

The lack of answers means I can’t let it go. It tumbles over and over again in my thoughts. Perhaps that’s part of the unsatisfying answer. My sense of caring about the pain in another is an indication of the sacredness of relationships, the importance of coming alongside those who are wounded.

It’s not THE answer, but at least it begins to lead me down the path to a hope-filled understanding.

The Why

August 17, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                    August 17, 2015


Most of the things I do each day are done out of habit. The way I brush my teeth, when I brush my teeth, and how I brush my teeth…regardless of what my dental hygienist tells me…is done out of habit. Some habits become a part of our life because of a situation that we go through. For instance, I always read at bedtime. Sometimes I read a few pages, and sometimes I read for two hours. The root of my bedtime reading goes back to when I had a herniated disc in my back and I was mostly bed-bound for a couple of weeks. I would read between pain pills.

Habit is a powerful life stabilizer. We hang our hat on it. It’s also why bad habits are hard to break. We shape our lives around them. Good habits, bad habits, routines…even rituals.

Many of our habits are done without a clue as to why.

I take a shower in the morning…every morning! Why? Because…that’s all I can say. I didn’t always take a shower in the morning. Goodness gracious! When I was growing up we didn’t even have a shower! So at some time in my life I decided that a morning shower sounded like a good idea.

“The Why” is a question that gets covered over. Why do I do what I do? If you were to ask me that question while staring at me there is good chance that you’ll get this glazed over look staring back at you.

Why am I a pastor? Because God placed a calling on my life that became defined my senior year of high school. I was clueless about a lot of other things my senior year, but I was clear on my calling.

“The Why” is a question that gets forgotten as we journey. A young lady I’ve known since she was born about 24 years ago, Allison Perrine, just completed a seventy day 4,000 mile bicycle journey along with 30 other college-aged young adults from across the country. I’m sure that when Allison was pedaling across Kansas she may have had moments when she asked the question, “Why am I doing this?”

Kansas has a way of doing that to people!

She was doing it to raise funds for cancer awareness programs. (She raised over $22,000.) But, really Allison was bicycling from baltimore to San Francisco because of her mom who lost her battle with cancer and her Aunt Marie who is a cancer survivor. That’s the real why behind the journey.

The church is often negligent of revisiting the why question. Why do we do what we do? Why do we give of our financial resources to the church and to missions? Why do we volunteer our time? Why do we pray for people? Why do we help our neighbors? Why are we passionate about ministry? Why do we clap when someone is baptized?

What is at the core of our purpose? Why do we care?

When we remind ourselves of the why we stay grounded in the cause.

It even helps us get through Kansas.

Spiritually-hungry Adults In Kids’ Bodies

October 22, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                         October 22, 2013


                      “Spiritually-hungry Grown-ups in Kid’s Bodies”


Understatement that is about to be made. Kids like to have fun!

Nothing like a good game of “Red Light, Green Light!”

Kid’s birthday parties are celebrations of delight with icing!

A neighborhood gathering of children for a game of “hide-and-go-seek” still gives me goosebumps!

I love watching my grandson have fun playing soccer on a small-sided field with other five year olds. He hasn’t learned that you’re suppose to keep score yet, even though most of the adults watching are keeping track of that. He’s just having fun…and regardless of whether his team scores twenty goals or zippo the post-game snack will be be the same and taste just as good.

Kids often have a great perspective on things.

What I’ve been noticing lately in our church is that there are a number of spiritually hungry kids. I’ll call them “spiritually-hungry adults in kid’s bodies”, because a lot of them are asking deeper questions than how many loaves and fishes did the little boy give Jesus?

One young man, just a tee shirt size past being a kid, asks me questions of depth each week. He’s looking for substance in this thing we call “walking with Jesus.” He’s figuring things out in his heart and in his mind. His mom has told me that he’s thinking about being a pastor. What do you say to a “Samuel?”

“Be a good little boy for Jesus” does not suffice. I’ve come to realize that spiritually-hungry kids don’t need all the answers in one gorging session. They need questions that lead them to discovering answers, and they need conversations that bring them to certain points where they can hear my answer.

Spiritually-hungry kids want to ask questions that don’t necessarily have one clear answer. “If God created everything, why did he create Satan?”  “If God knows I’m going to tell a lie why doesn’t he stop me before I tell it?” “Why is our worship service on Sunday morning for about an hour? Why not thirty minutes or three hours…and why don’t we have popcorn? Is there something in the Bible that says we can’t have popcorn in church?”

     No question is out-of-bounds for spiritually-hungry adults in kid’s bodies.

And here’s something else that I have no proof of, but just a sense in my spirit about. Kids who ask deep spiritual questions are often borderline threatening to a church. Sometimes it’s because the actual grown-ups aren’t asking deep questions themselves. If the climate is always one where only questions that have easy answers can be asked, deeper questions weigh on people like the after effects of the Sunday potluck.

In other situations kids who ask deep questions create uncomfortableness because it throws the whole system out of whack. Kind of like someone taking college courses he though he’s still in high school. It isn’t the progression we are used to, and yet a whole lot of high school graduates now enter college already with a number of college credits.

Kids asking deep spiritual questions…listen to this…is the hope of the church!

How so? It’s a rescuing of the community of faith from meaningless ritual and superficial spirituality. It’s leading new followers of Jesus beyond the tyranny of the urgent that keeps telling us that everything else is more important than the murmurings of our spirit.

Kids asking deep spiritual questions conveys that THIS really is IMPORTANT, this relationship with Jesus and life amongst the other believers. When kids stop asking questions the church has questions to ask.

I close with a confession! Too often I’m more concerned with the agenda and schedule than I am with the questions. For instance, last Sunday I did a kid’s story in our worship service. It did not go as I planned. The kids had comments and questions that did not fit into my plan. I rushed them to “my finish line”, because there was the adult message to get to. Sometimes that’s how we are…rush the kids to the pre-determined end point and ignore the questions.

And you know something! Kids are more important than that! They need to be seen…and heard, especially while they are still willing to give us “older kids in adult bodies” a hearing!

Reflections of a Middle School Camp Pastor, Day 4

July 19, 2012

I brought my bright blue pair of Nike running shoes to camp this year. For some reason, outlandishness makes you seem…okay to them! If I wore a bright orange tee shirt that said “I’ll shave my head for a quarter”, I’d probably feel normal. For some reason at camp craziness kind of has you going with the flow. It also makes you an acceptable person to talk about questions of faith, and doubts about God. A conversation I had with one of the campers today followed along those lines. She saw my shoes and let me into the inner circle of sitting at her lunch table…and then she said, “Would another one of the counselors tell their story tonight? I really liked it when Andy shared his story at campfire last night, and also when Julia shared hers the night before. It was good!” I nodded, and then I asked her, “Do you have a story to share?” “No. I don’t really feel that God is close to me.” I pursued it a little bit, without any “theologizing”, or “here’s what’s wrong with you.” “When I’m having a problem, or feeling lonely and I pray to him I just don’t feel that he hears me. It never seems to help.” I nodded again and encouraged her to say more. “I just don’t pray much anymore, because I don’t know if God really cares. It just feels like he’s always so far away.” And then she looked at me and said, “Okay! Staring contest. First one to smile or look away loses.” Yes, I know, that’s pretty random, but that’s how it is with middle school students quite often. A glimpse of their thoughts about God, and then to a staring contest. The young lady, like many others here, are at a time in their life when a relationship with God, or lack of a relationship with God, is often described in “feeling terms.” They may have had all the Sunday School answers, and know Biblical facts. And now they are in a transitioning phase when their emotions are going bonkers. She hasn’t sensed God wrapping his arms around her so does God really care? It’s a pivotal point in faith development. Can I doubt God and not be struck by lightning. Well quite frankly, the disciples of Jesus did. Tucked neatly right after Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and before his great commission at the end of Matthew, there is a verse that says when the disciples “…saw him, they worshiped him, but some doubted.” (Matthew 28:17) If doubting and asking the why questions is something the disciples of Jesus dealt with, I think it’s a safe bet that a middle school student will deal with it. The question…another one…is whether or not the adults are willing to let the doubts be expressed and grappled with?

Reflections of a Middle School Camp Pastor, Day 2

July 17, 2012

WORDS FROM W.W. July 17, 2012

Yesterday we climbed a mountain! Last night we struggled with the pain!
Not the pain in my knees, mind you, but rather the pain in the lives of middle school students. I had encouraged them to write down questions they had for God about something that troubled them. The responses gave me a view of the landscape of heartache and doubt that “recently-turned teenagers” deal with.
And, troubling as it sounds, a sense of cynicism towards the workings of God. They are troubled by, what they perceive, as God’s inactivity. Where was the Almighty when they felt picked on? Why did he create life and then allow someone close to them to die? Why pray if God is going to do what he wants to do anyway?
In essence, they are open to asking questions that my generation was afraid to ask, although we may have thought them! My generation got structure in Sunday School and youth group (which were good things). We dealt with “when, where, what, which, and how.” What we seldom dealt with, however, which the middle school group is willing to, is “why?” We had the Biblical numbers down…”forty this” and “twelve that”…but time seldom allowed us to get to the why.
Our Associate Pastor, when I had gone off to college was a guy named Jerry Heslinga. When I would come home on break, or for the summer, I would love to be involved in discussions or Bible studies with Jerry, because Jerry was not afraid to take the “why road.”
Now I gladly am leading…or perhaps being led…by these middle schoolers down that same road. It’s a pathway that does not guarantee answers, but encourages the searching.
Last night I was ready to launch into a presentation on Joseph’s journey from the pits to the heights, from the dungeon to exactly the place God wanted him to be in.
BUT…a few of the campers were dealing with something last night, a loss in their own lives, and I sensed that what I was to say could keep for another day. I turned to one of the counselors, a great young man about 22 named Bobby Cody. I said, “Bobby, come here.” He came to the front of our meeting area and I simply asked him “Tell us why you love Jesus?” For the next five to six minutes Bobby shared from his heart to a group of kids, who were focused on what he was saying.
Which describes something else about this coming-up generation. They aren’t afraid to ask why, but they also want to hear the truth, and about the Truth, as it is being experienced and lived out of someone’s life.