This week a man who has been walking with God for a long time inspired and challenged me with a simple comment – one he is not even aware impacted me.
I am relatively self-aware. I would describe myself as practical and realistic, which most folks deem to be strengths. However, I am also honest enough to admit that I tend to be negative and fearful – in the name of being practical and realistic.
Almost ten years ago when I stood alongside my pastor, Dale Brooks, looking at the undeveloped lot that would one day be the site of Avalon Church, this man of vision commented on how he could see a parking lot packed with cars and a beautiful building filled with people worshipping God. Huh? All I saw was a lot of trees to be removed and hundreds of truckloads of fill dirt to level the lot. (I totally understand Eeyore!)
For most of my life the compelling question has always been, “How?” And very often, until I got an answer to the question, I did not move forward.
So my friend, who has been designing and constructing buildings for the Lord for over 40 years, is speaking with me about ways to maximize and more efficiently use space – some of which may involve construction. And without a bit of hesitation (perhaps because he and God have been friends for a long time), he says:
“The most important question is not how, but what.”
Of course, this man is aware of Jesus warning to “count the cost” to avoid acting foolishly. But his comment was more about the reality that if we wait for God to give us a detailed explanation of “how” before we take a step, most of us will never take a step. Additionally, if the Lord were to always provide the specific answer to the question of how, we would no longer need faith – “And without faith it is impossible to please God.”
So the most important question is “What” – “Lord, what do you want me (my family, my church) to do?” “What must happen or be pursued to complete all You want to accomplish in my life (my marriage, my family, my church)? Incredibly, the consistent history in scripture is that when people pursued the answer to “What?” the Lord always came through with the “how.”
Makes me think of all the times I have heard people in ministry sessions ask (at times forcefully or angrily), “How am I supposed to do that?” And sadly, when many of these folks don’t get a clear-cut, precise answer (that is acceptable to them, incidentally) about “how,” they just give up.
Perhaps they (we) are asking the wrong question.