The Answering Place
by Kim Reisman
World Methodist Evangelism
The Lord is righteous in everything he does; he is filled with kindness. The Lord is close to all who call on him sincerely. He fulfills the desires of those wo fear him; he hears their cries for help and rescues them. The Lord protects all those who love him, but he destroys the wicked. (Psalm 145:17-20, NLT)
In Jesus in Blue Jeans: A Practical Guide to Everyday Spirituality, Laurie Beth Jones tells of serving as the executive director of a YWCA Girl’s camp. There was a girl, Carol, at the camp who had been a tremendous challenge to her. One day Carol invited Laurie Beth to walk with her up the mountain. About two-thirds of the way up, Carol stepped off the trail and asked Laurie Beth to look down. When she did, she saw a small area a few yards off the path, which had been cleared of all the weeds and brush and was surrounded by a carefully constructed circle of rocks. “I cleared away everything but the wildflowers,” Carol said self-consciously as Laurie Beth looked around. “From here you can see all of us down below,” she said as she pointed out the recreation field and each of the cabins. “That is why I picked this spot.” Carol continued tentatively, “I know I’ve been a lot of trouble for you…and I thought this might be a good place for you to come and get some answers.” Laurie Beth responded, “That is beautiful, Carol, I will call this ‘The Answering Place.’” (Laurie Beth Jones, Jesus in Blue Jeans: A Practical Guide to Everyday Spirituality, Hyperion, 1997, p 151-152)
As we move through our lives, it seems at every turn we’re confronted by questions. Questions about how we should behave, what we should believe, questions about our commitments, our priorities, our decision-making. Yet many of us forget that there is a place where we can go for answers. We lose sight of the fact that God is close by and available, ready to meet us wherever we are in order to hear us and respond. It is easy to become distracted and even overwhelmed by the demands of our lives so that the sense of God’s closeness begins to fade.
Moses often went up the mountain to the place where he would meet God and receive direction. When Elijah was fleeing from Jezebel’s soldiers, he went into the wilderness, encountered God in a still small voice, and discovered what he was to do next. As the time for Jesus’ crucifixion drew near, he went to the Mount of Olives to pray. It was his “answering place.” He knew God would be there to meet him, to listen, to answer all the questions he may have had and to guide him into his future.
In all the times of our lives, but especially as we approach the season of Lent, we need to be deliberate about creating answering places where we can meet God. Too often we act in haste, obtaining information but never taking enough time to carefully contemplate what we’ve learned. We’re faced with decisions and challenges but work to address them without tapping any of our faith resources. We need to step away, find a place and time where we can meet God, open ourselves to God’s movement within us, and seek God’s guidance and creative power in our lives. Laurie Beth Jones writes, “I need a viewpoint that allows me to look down on the everyday happenings of my life and see them as God sees them, placed in their proper perspective.” (p152) That is a viewpoint we all need; that is a viewpoint that strengthens the connection between faith and daily life. But we will be unable to gain such a viewpoint without deliberately seeking answering places, places where we can go to meet God, to come to know God better, and to allow God to inhabit the center of our lives.
Do you have an answering place? I hope so, and I pray that you are deliberate about going there. If not, I pray that you might find an answering place. A place where you can meet God and reconnect to the power God offers to direct and sustain you. And I pray that you would gain a God’s-eye view of the everyday happenings of your life so that you might receive answers to your questions and be guided into your future.