“Jesus is the Answer” is a very easy phrase- almost a platitude. It looks at home on a bumper sticker, is an easy sentiment given to those who are hurting, and could probably be found written in script over a rustic wooden sign on sale for 40% off at Hobby Lobby.
But throughout the Gospels, rather than being the Great Answer, Jesus asked 307 questions. Almost twice the number of questions He was asked (183). Of the questions He was asked, what percentage do you think he answered? Seventy Percent? Fifty? Try one point six percent. He only answered three questions directly.*
One of these three direct answers comes in Matthew 13 when Jesus’ disciples ask Him why he chooses to speak to the people in parables, the way He often responds to the people’s questions in lieu of giving them direct answers. He says,
“To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” (Matt 13:11-13)
Jesus is a master storyteller, sharing fifty five parables throughout the four Gospels, many of which are in response to questions He has been asked. Jesus recognized that people learn, empathize with, and are touched by stories.
I have recently had the joy of opening what will be my last musical stateside before heading to Berlin. It’s a wonderful story about a German (Convenient, right?) Immigrant family in the late 1800’s, the father of which risks his life to bring Christmas Trees to other German Immigrants in Chicago by sailing them across Lake Michigan in the dead of winter. The show begins with a song all about stories, with lines like “The heartbeat of life is in our stories and our songs,” and “The lines in a face tell a story.” As a theater artist, I get to tell stories in all manners of ways. It’s what I love so dearly about theater.
But as much as I love telling stories, I love hearing other people’s stories. I love hearing how God is working in their lives and guiding their hearts. I love hearing about each chapter, whether it feels like a page turning thriller, a slapstick comedy, or a tissue-box-emptying drama. It is completely insane to me that God is writing each of these stories and is shaping them in ways we could never imagine. I never imagined the next chapter in my story would take place across the Atlantic Ocean, or that much of the dialogue in that chapter would be in a language I never thought I’d learn. What also strikes me is that, when I look back on my story, I realize that God never wastes a season. He has always been working, weaving things together, and preparing me for what is coming next. And He is doing the same in your story! Whether the chapter you feel you’re in seems like dull exposition or a stressful climax, God is using this season to grow something in you, to work in your heart, and to be a foretaste of His glory.