I don’t know about you, but the bane of my life is the person who answers my question with a question. But I am honoured, for the Lord seems to have blessed me with an overabundance for them. You would think that after a life time of experience, I would have got used to it, but to be honest, I’m still a work in progress.
You may well ask me, “Do you ever do it?” My reply would probably be…. “Who me? … ” This leads me to conclude it is a worldly “human nature” thing. Thinking about it as I type, it is probably a delay tactic, seeking a little more time until one works out what answer the questioner really wants to hear.
We seem to be conditioned to lying these days, or if not exactly lying, sugar coating the truth, so it becomes more palatable for the receiver. After all, we don’t want the questioner to be upset with us for telling the truth! Therefore, we take us a little time to mull it all over in our mind, before we come to an acceptable, or compromise, or appropriate answer. Answering a question with a question gives us a few seconds longer to mull and consider, while at the same time, we subconsciously hope that the questioner will give us some more information on which to provide the “correct” answer.
I’ve often met people who seem to delight in keeping their thoughts and information secret. In other words, if I am the only one who knows such-and-such, I am in a position of power, for people have to come to me and ask me for help. We are being forced to stroke their insecurities and placate them. They are forcing us to pander to their problems, as they seek self importance, by imposing on us.
Others just seem to have lost the thread of life. The cannot understand why anyone would want to talk to them in the first place, especially someone like ‘you.’ It is not that these people necessarily answer all questions with another question, but completely ignore the question and trot out their automatic clichéd response which says all, but answers nothing. In fact, many such people will give much the same answer irrespective of the question – for your question is only a sign to them that you are close, in hearing range. Sadly, I’m sure I do that too, to certain people. Not intentionally, of course, but as a simple matter-of-fact as I take them for granted.
I know for sure I used to do it a lot, and as a result, people would understand ‘YES’ as I spoke out ‘NO.’ What does this mean? It means that my voice said no, but my body language said yes. These talking to me picked up on my body language but closed their ears to my voice. Suffice it to say, it got me into a lot of trouble.
A final reason for not wanting to answer a question, is a total disbelief of the questioner, or their offer; the offer is simply “too good to be true.” In these cases, non-answering is a form of self protection, saying I don’t trust you, or/and, I choose not to believe you.
I read of a Pastor going to a theme park and finding his group have a couple of extra tickets. The others entered the park as he tried to give the tickets away free. Surprising, he found it a very hard challenge to give away expensive tickets to complete strangers. No one would trust him, his offer was just too good to believe. How sad is that?
You can imagine just what happened as the Pastor offered the tickets; he was rejected, and went on swiftly to the next potential recipient… I image that the more he was rejected, the less he tried to persuade, until a subliminal shake of the head, even before his sales speech was out of his mouth, caused him to stop and move on. After a while, we was reading the body language only, not even waiting for a verbal rejection confirmation.
Let’s try your imagination again. Suppose you were an invalid, and had been for a long, long time. You just lie there and watch people pass you by. Year after year it is the same. Sometimes people stop to have pity on you, or empathise with you. You tell them what happened; “I was born this way. I’ve been like this for 38 years now, you know……” They leave, you remain…. Nothing changes….. One day, an itinerant preacher and his followers pass and talks to you. You don’t even raise your eyes. You don’t even hear his question, you answer as a million times before, “I was born this way. I’ve been like this for 38 years now, you know……” He talks again. How strange, you think, no one ever talks to me more than one question….! But this time it is not a question which he speaks, it is a command! Now he’s really got your attention. In your amazement, you do as you are told, and in the process, find you are healed. Only one thought goes through your head as you try to get you mind around it all, “What on earth just happened?”
Just to confirm, this is a real story and comes from John 5:5-9 and reads:
“And a certain man was there, who had an infirmity thirty-eight years.
When Jesus saw him lying, and knowing that he had spent much time, He said to him, Do you desire to be made whole?
The infirm man answered Him, Sir, when the water is troubled, I have no one to put me into the pool. But while I am coming, another steps down before me.
Jesus says to him, Rise, take up your bed and walk. And immediately the man was made whole and took up his bed and walked. And it was a Sabbath on that day.”
Bluntly, this certain man had just disrespected God, by ignoring Him. Yet God healed him immediately without a second thought.
If God had acted the same way as we usually do, settling for the body language or the verbal reply given, that man would not have been healed; he would have missed out on a huge blessing from God.
I wonder how many blessings we miss out on, because we simple ignore questions, ignore the questioner, as we fob off the questioner with disrespect?
I reckon I’ve still got lots of things in me to change. How about you?