by John Armstrong, Jr.
I like asking questions because it gives me insight into what people are thinking and about their experience. There is much to be learned by asking good questions. Now, I understand that there is a big difference between liking to ask questions and ability to ask good questions (which implies, allowing the space for them to do their work). I can get impatient wanting to receive the answers that I want and then I want to move on because life is continuing to happen regardless of my questions. Sometimes, I get so busy and am so inundated with information that I don’t take the time to stop and process that information. I can go for a long time without really thinking; I’m just functioning. Maybe you can relate to that. I find that I need to ask myself questions in order to force myself to think. Processing the answers leads to change and growth. Just getting a quick answer and moving on doesn’t bear lasting fruit. I find myself asking questions most often when I make mistakes. What do you do when you make a mistake? If you want to get to know who someone really is, watch them closely when they make a mistake. This is where the questions come in. A bit, fat mistake is sitting there in front of you and you cannot escape it, you have to own it. Now, what do you do? Where did that mistake come from? Was it purposeful? Was it sinful? Was it caused by ignorance or inattention on my part? What is the damage? Were people hurt? All these questions and more go through my mind when I have to face up to a mistake. The answers to the questions dictate my action. If you have stayed with me this far, you deserve an answer to the “where are we going” question.
Well I want to give you something that is practical theology, something that will bring the gospel to bear in your life on a daily basis. So, what mistakes have you made lately? I have made many… So, every mistake is an opportunity to grow in grace or to stay stuck in a rut. When I make a mistake, there are always things that need to be done to deal with the problem. First of all, I have the challenge of dealing with the mistake in a way that does not leave me stranded in the quagmire of my own doubt and self-loathing. Beating myself up over mistakes come easy for me and this is where I need the gospel, otherwise I tend to focus on myself and that can be paralyzing. This is where I need to be reminded, that I am far more loved and cherished than I can possibly imagine and that my failings cannot remove me from the love of my heavenly Father. In Christ, I am safe to acknowledge my mistakes and step out in the freedom of the gospel to keep following Jesus by faith. It is in that freedom that I am then able to humble myself and apologize to someone for doing damage to them in some way. That too is an exercise of the gospel in my life and theirs. God will grow you through the exercise of that discipline of repenting and seeking forgiveness. These are powerful tools that the Holy Spirit can use every day in each of our lifes. I hope you will remember that the next time you are staring at that mistake you do not want to have to own. Look to Jesus, ask the hard questions, and know that your growth in grace is His great delight. The Holy Spirit is working even through our failings to make us more like Jesus. Praise the Lord!