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When God Calls You in for Questioning

Written by David Wheeler, Legacy Coalition Pastor’s Division

As I write this, my father-in-law is firing up his rototiller in preparation for planting his huge garden…and he’s 98 years old. He and his 94-year-old wife, “Tootsie”, have been married for 77 years and still live in their little farmhouse in north central Indiana…just across the cornfield from the church where they were baptized about 74 years ago. They were recently released from home health care visitation because they are too healthy!

Therefore, it’s no surprise that every time we drive from Tennessee to Indiana for a visit, Cathy (my wife) asks lots of questions. She’s the unofficial “family historian” and loves hearing the stories of her parents’ early lives in the desperately poor mountains of east Tennessee where they were raised. Cathy has discovered that folks rarely tell stories unless they are asked questions.

I sure do wish I’d learned that secret earlier in life. My mom was a superb storyteller, but she died when I was 30 and my children were 1 and 3. So many untold and unheard stories were buried with her. My dad was a respected and successful minister and remained mentally sharp until he died at age 88…but I didn’t ask him enough questions. Our phone conversations were mostly filled with “activity reports”…much more “telling” than “asking”.

Faith Stories

When Cathy and I present the wonderful Grandparenting Matters seminar, we cover the 8 “best practices” of intentional Christian grandparents. Practice #6 is “telling faith stories.” That’s different from Bible stories.

We certainly do want our grandchildren to know God’s stories. Most of us purchase Bibles and Bible storybooks for our grandkids, to read with them when the opportunities arise. But our descendants also need to know OUR stories…how our lives have intersected with God. That’s our “faith story”. 

“When someone dies, an entire library burns to the ground.” Please make sure that your stories are told with passion…and perhaps even recorded in print or audio…before your “library” is reduced to ashes. Companies like Storyworth will help you write a book of your faith stories to be passed down through succeeding generations.

Power of Questions

I’ve learned that I can develop deeper relationships and closer connections by asking questions than by giving “lectures”. James 1:19 informs us that “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak…”

Dale Carnegie published “How To Win Friends and Influence People” in 1937 and made this statement: “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”

I believe that’s the reason one of the most purchased resources on the Legacy Coalition website’s store is the 3 versions of “Let’s Talk” conversation cards. These simple cards help both grandchildren and grandparents begin to tell stories to each other. Some of the stories will be silly…and others will help transmit eternal values.

Answering Questions with Questions

A rabbi was asked: “Rabbi, why do you always answer a question with a question.” He replied: “Why shouldn’t I?”

Mark Buchanan shares this insight in his book The Rest of God: “Nothing hooks us and pries us open quite like a question. You can talk all day at me…and I can respond or not. But ask me one question, and I must answer or rupture our fellowship.”

Our relationship with God is often composed of two parts: reading/listening to His teachings and making requests of Him. Those requests often are offered as questions: e.g. “Why did You allow this?”

Could it be that God will answer our questions with a question?

Questions from God

I often hear students say things like: “I’m seeking God’s will…I’m waiting on a word from the Lord.” I’ve never heard a student say: “I’m waiting for a question from the Lord.” That’s too intimidating, isn’t it? We’re fearful of what He may ask us. As one believer stated: “In our denomination, we don’t raise our hands. We’re afraid God might call on us.”

Actually, Scripture reveals that God is a wonderful question-asker. And it’s not because He doesn’t know the answers. He’s not seeking answers as much as He is seeking connection. And, as stated earlier, questions draw us into deeper relationships. Here are just a few of God’s questions:

  • In the garden of Eden: “Where are you?” “Who told you that you were naked?” “What is this you have done?”
  • To Job: “I will question you…Where were you…?” Dozens of questions follow.
  • To Moses: “What is that in your hand?”
  • To Elijah in a cave: “What are you doing here?”
  • To Isaiah: “Whom shall I send?”
  • To Jonah: “Do you have any reason to be angry?”
  • To Ezekiel: “Can these bones live?”

Jesus apparently inherited the question-asking trait from His Father:

  • “Who do you say that I am?” “Do you believe this?” “Do you want to be healed?” “Why are you so afraid?” “Why did you doubt?” “Do you still not understand?” “Are you also going to leave?” “What does Scripture say?” “Who touched me?” “Do you love me?” “Why do you call me Lord and not do the things I command?” “Where are your accusers?”

Look back over those questions of Jesus. As you contemplate how you would respond to each question, don’t you sense that a more intimate relationship would result?

Conclusion

Now, let’s examine how much time we spend talking TO our grandkids rather than asking questions and sincerely listening. Which path may lead to a more lasting and satisfying intimacy?

Here’s a wonderful question Jesus asked in Mark 10:51: “What do you want me to do for you?”

How would you answer that question regarding your grandchildren and adult children? Aren’t you glad He asked…and that He intends to answer?


David Wheeler is a retired pastor and university professor. He and his wife, Cathy, have served Legacy Coalition since 2019 as presenters of the Grandparenting Matters seminar. They live in the shadow of the Great Smoky Mountains near their 5 grandchildren.

More to explore

The Truth Will Set You Free

The weight of a grandparent’s role can be felt immensely. We hold the stories of the past, the wisdom of experience, and a fierce love for the next generation.

Grandparent, Teach Me to Pray (Part 2)

Part 1 of this blog shared four things to keep in mind as you seek to pass prayer on to your grandkids. Here in Part 2, we’ll look at some specific techniques for helping grandchildren learn what to pray for.

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