Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Glad You Asked!

Photo by Carlene Hardt ©2007

Ever been put on the spot by an unpredictable question? Maybe it was a family member, friend, colleague, or someone who just happened to ask you. And perhaps the perfect words just flowed from your mouth, and the questioner was satisfied.

Or, maybe like me, you draw a blank sometimes. Logic and memory are somehow temporarily missing.

What’s the question?

The question might be on any Bible subject —from Cain’s wife to creation, from predestination to was that real wine—a lot of topics can be a challenge. Thankfully you don’t have to be an expert to give a helpful reply to the person who is asking you.

Here’s a few suggestions.

1. Be silently thankful that God has opened this opportunity for you. It’s your chance to grow.
2. Be silently thankful, knowing the Holy Spirit is working in that other person’s life.
3. Smile and kindly inquire, “Why do you ask?” This gains you a few extra moments, and you can focus on the person’s face and his/her demeanor. It can help you ascertain the level of importance in the question.
4. After their response to “Why do you ask?” then offer your affirmation, “Glad you asked. That’s a good question. Can we meet for coffee soon and spend a little time together?”
5. You might want to add, “I’m no expert, but I can give you some ideas.”
6. Make a specific time, if possible, to show you are taking the question seriously, and you care about the person’s feelings and their need to know.

It may help to find out why the person is asking. Do they need a listening ear more than a scholarly report from you? Maybe there’s no one else they can speak with; maybe they feel a closeness to you.

Or, maybe they’re out to test you, see your willingness to follow through, your sincerity, your knowledge of the issues.

Your response of “Why do you ask?” and “Glad you asked” has taken the pressure of an instant reply off of your mind. Now it’s time to prepare for some quiet sharing with this person at the coffee house.

You have a real reason to dig into the subject. You’ll learn in the process, too. You’ll want to give more than your opinion and an account of your own experience. Give Bible truths.

“ . . . And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. . . ” 1 Peter 3:15-16, (New Living Translation).

Prayer is the key. Ask the Lord for wisdom and discernment. Ask Him to give you the answers that point that person to God. Open the Bible and refresh your mind with reminders of God’s power, love, and the purpose of life. Look again at what Jesus said about the Holy Spirit in John 16 and Acts 1:8.

The person probably doesn’t want to read a book or do Internet research. He or she probably is not going to be impressed with just a single Bible verse.

Put together some notes for yourself on the topic of the question. Search Scriptures, find answers.

As you prepare consider the bigger issues. How does this question fit in with God’s eternal plan?

Look up the most pertinent Bible verse that comes to your mind. Then look at its context. See how the chapter ahead and the chapter following add to what is being taught in that verse.

Try a modern version of the Bible for a new look at terminology. Compare the key words with your favorite version. What is it saying?

Doesn’t all of this take time? Yes, and that’s reason to be thankful. As you take time to draw nearer to the Lord you’ll be blessed.

There’s probably something in your schedule you can sacrifice to make the time available. Rename this challenge because it’s really a Divine Appointment.

When you meet with the person you can speak with confidence because God’s Holy Spirit will bless this encounter. Friend or enemy, this person will not be the same after your praying and sharing. Even if the person is not ready to concede you’ve solved the problem he or she can know that you do care, and you love the Lord.

Try it. See what happens when your response is, “Why do you ask?” followed by sincere listening, and your genuine exclamation, “Glad you asked!”

by Elaine Hardt ©2008