Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Conversation (face to face) (10/07/10)
TITLE: Questions and Conversation that Counts
By June Dickie
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Now and then, I have remembered this brief exchange so many years ago, and have quietly chuckled. Yes, I do ask a lot of questions. They seem to be irrepressibly within me. I am interested in people. I do genuinely care to try and understand where they are coming from. I had always thought it was a good quality, and for my job in Bible translation, it certainly is an asset. To check the quality of a translation, and ensure that it accurately represents the original, I need to ask innumerable questions, exploring a text from every angle. Failing to ask the pertinent questions can mean that possible erroneous understandings will not be exposed.
But the past couple of days I have begun to see "questions" in a different light. First, I was invited to a dinner party with friends and other guests who I had not previously met. Struggling with laryngitis, I was not able to engage the other guests in conversation, and consequently simply had to sit there quietly the whole evening - listening, but not asking. Again and again questions pushed to the surface in my head, longing to escape and find relief, but the effort to croak them out was too great. I felt quite "hedged in", unable to initiate an interest in their lives. All I could do was to be an observant spectator, as others hit the ball to and fro.
Questions – so much a part of our exploring one another's persona and building connections. And yet there can be a darker side to questions, a sharp prodding that can be insensitive and self-centered. As the writer of Ecclesiastes would have put it, "there is a time for questions, and a time for refraining from asking questions." And blessed are those who can distinguish the difference. Indeed, even more blessed are those at the receiving end, those in conversation with such sensitive souls.
Which is what it is all about ... "conversation". The Latin "con" tells us that this should be a talking with one another. If we really want to talk with a friend, and be a blessing to that person rather than simply satisfying our own curiosities, we need to be listening to the Spirit rather than simply blurting out careless interrogations. What will I do with the information, should they be kind enough to share it with me? Will my being given access to that part of their lives help them, or just be pearls scattered before stampeding swine? Have I earned the right to pry into their personal space? Have I proven myself worthy of guarding well those "parts of others" entrusted to me?
Lord, when I look at Your life, I see questions coming from Your mouth. Often You responded with a rhetorical question of rebuke when others showed poor understanding of You and Your mission. You used questions to introduce teaching points. But You "knew" people, and didn't need to seek information to build relationships, as we do. Perhaps in heaven, we will not need to ask questions either. But help us this side of eternity, to use questions as a surgeon uses a scalpel. May we guard our tongues and restrain our selfish need to know. Give us compassionate hearts to converse. For the building up of others, and the release of Your character to touch them as You would,
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