The Dreaded Question

The Dreaded Question


There are these two guys that attend The Worship Center (my Father’s church).  I’ve known them both for a large part of my life.  They are mentors of mine, former youth leaders of mine, and friends.  One is Davey.  In the absence of an older brother, he has filled those shoes in my life.  He taught me to drive, let me borrow his car to pick up my date for my Junior Prom, and he is one of the few people besides my Father I go to when I need council.  The other man is Anthony.  A gifted artist from South Africa who has been in my life since before I was in middle school and before he was married.  Sharing a cigar with Anthony and admiring art or God’s blessing in our lives is one of my most treasured joys.


But, you hang out with either of them for more than 10 minutes and they are bound to ask “The Dreaded Question.” 


What is “The Dreaded Question?”  Simple.  It is, “What is God doing in your life?”  Now, this may be worded slightly differently at times.  Sometimes it will present itself as, “What is God showing you?” or, “How is God moving in your life?”  Or my personal favorite, “How is your walk going?”


This seems like a harmless inquiry, but if you aren’t prepared; if you are caught off-guard, it may leave you stammering for an answer Forest Gump-style as you silently pray for a car accident, gunshot,  or ANYTHING to distract from your inability to answer. 


Oftentimes, my answer is simple:  I don’t know.  Maybe it is my arrested development or an elongated adolescence, but all I can think of is, “I don’t know.”


What?!  Oh the horror!  Now, of course… I don’t say that.  It usually goes something like this, “Oh wow… What a great question!  So much.  SO much.  Wow, God is working in crazy-awesome ways in my life…. (pause for effect, maybe look up and point to the Big Guy)…  How bout you?”


Classic non-answer/redirect. 


There was a time, recently, when I decided to have an answer locked and loaded, ready for The Dreaded Question.  A spiritual press release if you will.  My Holy Mission Statement.  When asked, I would simply say, “Wow, I think God has been really trying to teach me patience the past few months.”  Now, there was a large chunk of time when my fake answer actually coincided with what God was doing in my life.  But basically, that was dumb luck…  and God still continues to teach me patience so I can always fall back on that.


But what is he REALLY doing in my life?  What is he doing in yours?  Can you answer that?  I mean, honestly?  I mean, sure… You are attending a small group and you are having sincere quiet times at least 3 times a week… But what is God trying to stress in your life?  Where is he trying to build you up?  Where is he allowing you to break down?  And Why?


Here are some ways to know that your answer might be BS:


If your answer starts with, “Oh, well I’m reading/studying this book/chapter/commentary.”


Or, “I’m taking this class/seminar/workshop.”


Then, I call foul!


Which is not to say that workshops and classes and books and commentaries can’t be immensely helpful in your walk.  They really can be, and SHOULD be a part of your devotional life.  But your devotional life is different from what God is doing in your personal, spiritual walk.


So how do we defend against The Dreaded Question?  Well, there are a couple ways.  First, if you know someone who seems to have their answer nailed down, someone who openly offers you the things God is doing in their lives even without being asked…  SPEND TIME WITH THAT PERSON.  Ask them what they ask God for.  Ask them how God spoke to them.  Vince spoke recently about seeking the council of the wise.  If someone has what you want…  Maybe you should try to learn from them.


Second, ask God.  I know that for me personally, my prayers often focus on what I want God to do.  We need to be even more concerned with what God wants US to do.  So, ask Him.  Ask how he wants to show up in a particular situation.  Ask what he wants you to learn from what’s going on in your life.  Ask him what he wants you to get out of the book you’re reading or the class you are taking.  And of course, ask him to show up!  Now, just because you pray for this does not mean he’s just going to raise the curtain and say, “Here ya go!  This is what I want.”  We don’t get a laundry list or a set of goals from God.  But He will reveal, in His time, what He wants out of your devotion and where He is leading you.  And I know, consoling someone by saying “it is all in God’s timing” is about as comforting as an airplane seat belt (really?  This thing’s gonna help?)  But it’s true, staying focused on God and being patient goes a long way.


And lastly, if you didn’t like either of those two options you can always just say, “I don’t know.”  Seriously.  If that is where you are at, that’s fine.  In fact, say this instead, “I’m not sure what God is trying to do in my life right now… Can you be praying for me?”  That way, you’ve avoided lying about your relationship with God (always a bonus) and you’ve got someone praying for you!  That’s a win-win!


Let’s take the “Dread” out of the Dreaded Question.



What are you thoughts on “The Dreaded Question?”



3 Comments on “The Dreaded Question”

  1. Anonymous says:

    <html><body style="word-wrap: break-word; -webkit-nbsp-mode: space; -webkit-line-break: after-white-space; ">You know, Nick, I’m getting to the age when I have trouble answering the question, "What did you do last week?" &nbsp;I honestly have to wrack my brain or check my calendar. &nbsp;But I would give my right arm to have friends who would regularly ask me "The Dreaded Question". &nbsp;More often than not, I’m chasing down a friend or family member because I have to tell someone <span class="Apple-style-span" style="text-decoration: underline;">right</span> <span class="Apple-style-span" style="text-decoration: underline;">now</span> what God just said or did. &nbsp;Ask my son, Jason – I don’t know what I’m going to do when he leaves home. &nbsp;I’ve got a suggestion for those who want to hear from Him more clearly. &nbsp;Feed on His Word! &nbsp;I can’t count the number of times the Holy Spirit has brought a verse to mind and then illuminated something about it that I didn’t know before! &nbsp;The funny thing is that it most often happens in the places where I’m most thankful. &nbsp;My garden and my shower are two of those places. &nbsp;I’ll be in a state of thanksgiving and suddenly He is speaking to me. &nbsp;There’s something about a thankful, grateful heart that He can’t resist. &nbsp;We need to grab hold of the truth that God is ravished by us! &nbsp;He is the Creator of the universe and we are the apple of His eye! &nbsp;He <span class="Apple-style-span" style="text-decoration: underline;">wants</span> us to know Him. &nbsp;He longs for us to <span class="Apple-style-span" style="text-decoration: underline;">want</span> Him – His company, His presence, not just His blessings. &nbsp;I love what it says in Malachi 3:16 &amp; 17 – "Then they that feared the Lord spake often to one another: &nbsp;and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon His name. &nbsp;And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels;…" &nbsp;Let’s <span class="Apple-style-span" style="text-decoration: underline;">be</span> those people who "cannot but speak the things that we have seen and heard." &nbsp;Pam<div><div><div><div></div></div></div></div></body></html>

  2. Beth says:

    Awesome post, Nick. One thing that’s interesting is that sometimes, we can get so comfortable in our communities that we stop asking the dreaded question to one another. Friendship might not necessarily fellowship if the dreaded question never comes in to play…

  3. L. Bell says:

    Practicing a daily examen and noticing patterns can be helpful for the "what is God doing" question, but mostly I think God’s into clandestine ops and we don’t know about the real stuff until long after the work is done. God is shoring up the foundations and I’m trying to arrange the furniture…So I’m all for admitting my ignorance and saying "Ask me later. Maybe I’ll have some clue."

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