|Image: Billy Alexander|
My heart sank the minute my small daughter bit her lip, hung her head and slowly twisted away from me. Thirty seconds ago I had been Pressure Cooker Mommy in a large store with three kids and husband in tow under very specific time constraints dominated by The List. My daughter was at my elbow every minute, asking me question after question until I swung around and spat, without explanation, "Just stop. Asking. Questions."
Now travel in time with me and observe some disciples acting as bodyguards for Jesus, pushing pesky parents away -- you know, trying to get it all for their little cherubs. There is one of them arguing with Peter and nearly pushing past, "Just a blessing! A blessing from the rabbi!"
And what about the children? Years ago when I worked summer after summer in different educational and caregiving jobs, I would have dozens of grubby hands pulling dme in every direction. Every eye would plead for attention. And their questions always bubbled in multiples. We are not told, but I can see the disciples shooing away not only the parents but the children as well: "Jesus has had a busy day. He's got to move on. Get away, kid. Just stop. Asking. Questions. "
Try as I might, I can't find a verse in which Jesus tells someone to stop asking questions. He did get away for solitude, but he took all the questions in stride and asked a lot of his own too. And Scripture says he was "indignant" at what the disciples were doing with the youngest questioners and their parents: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (Mark 10:14-15).
Two things encourage me here: Jesus is indignant that his disciples are blocking the way, and Jesus wants everyone to pay attention to the very people they are rejecting and learn from them. The way Jesus accepts children is great news for the curious, the questioner and the skeptic. Perhaps as such you have felt others barring the way every time you open your mouth to ask a question. Maybe someone has even said, "Just believe. And stop. Asking. Questions."
In Jesus we find someone who honors both the question and the questioner. No impatience. No avoidance. No fear. He, in fact, asks us to be like the children, the question-asking children, to enter the kingdom of God. Of course his statement about the kingdom of God involves a richness and depth we can't cover here, and it goes beyond this one facet of a child's natural curiosity. But may we consider this? That if you have lots of questions, you may be closer to the kingdom of God and to Jesus than you realize.
Today I reflected and asked my daughter forgiveness. I cried when she answered, "I just wanted to be with you." Her heartfelt statement leads me to a final consideration: Where are your questions ultimately taking you? Why are you asking them?