Many years ago my 3 year-old son Anthony had a simple question for me when I told him I would be gone on a business trip for several days. “Why, Daddy?” ‘Well’ I explained, ‘I have to meet with some people.’ That was not sufficient. The question came again, ‘why?’ I tried to answer, but he would not be deterred. ‘Why?’ he asked again and again. I finally gave him the answer all parents give when pushed too far in this game of inquisition, ‘Just because!’
Looking back over the past decade of my life and career I have come to a sad realization that I have mostly quit asking the ‘why’ question. Perhaps I need a three-year old in my life again. What is becoming clear to me is that when we stop asking ‘why’ our lives become fixated on the other more mundane questions of ‘what am I supposed to do’, ‘when do I need to do it’, ‘where do I need to go to do it’, and ‘how am I supposed to get it all done?’ These safe, tactical and practical questions are the enemy of the transcendent and more dangerous question, ‘why am I even doing this in the first place?’
The ‘why’ question is dangerous because it forces us to examine our motives, question our values and assess our real priorities in life. ‘Why’ is the fundamental question about what guides our lives, what determines our identities; about who we ultimately serve and what we really worship. When we keep asking ‘why’ we peel back the layers until we reach the raw reality of who we are.
If you want to enter the danger zone, open your calendar and your ‘to-do’ list for the week, and for each item listed instead of asking what or when or where or how, ask yourself ‘why am I setting aside time to do this?’ ‘Why spend time on this and not the myriad of others ways I could invest this same alotted time?’ ‘What does this say about what is driving me, about my priorities in life, my values and what is important to me?’
Dangerous questions. If you have the courage to ask them, then let the next natural question also be asked…‘what if?’ Can you allow yourself to imagine a different path, one that better reflects your heart’s desire, your true sense of how God created you to live? What if you stopped doing everything that was misaligned with your real values and started doing only those things that fed your spirit and nourished your soul?
This is the soft clay in which the Holy Spirit works to transform us into the people we were created to be.