Who Will Answer?

I have been a Sunday School teacher now for nearly 10 years. While I have poured my heart into teaching young children about Jesus, I now question if I have poured with the same passion my own children. My kids have grown up “in church”, have sat through family Bible studies, family meetings (albeit inconsistent), went to Christian schools, assisted me in teaching, and learned a few Bible verses.

Yet my heart aches.

My 15 year-old son recently wrote in a paper for school: “I have no religion, even though I believe in God. I think it’s better to follow my own “rules” than a religion.”

My 12 year-old daughter seems more spiritually disengaged since starting public school. In our talks together, I am discovering that she leans towards the belief that truth is relative.  

Yes, my heart aches.

But I also understand. I remember questioning the Bible around that age. My question was simple, yet it was the basis for all of my belief. “How does the history in the Bible fit in with the history I am learning in school?” Unfortunately, at the time there was no one in my life who would either take me seriously or who knew the answer. My faith in the “stories” in the Bible was shaken. If the stories were not true, how could the rest of it be true? To me, this was a pivotal question.

Everyone has questions that are pivotal to their belief in God. Some of those questions may seem silly or unimportant, or maybe they are questions we ask ourselves but have been okay not knowing the answer. But they are important. Please take time to read these lyrics written in 1967 by Louis Eduardo Aute (1):

Hallelujah! Hallelujah!, Hallelujah!

From the canyons of the mind,
We wander on and stumble blindly
Through the often-tangled maze
Of starless nights and sunless days,
While asking for some kind of clue
Or road to lead us to the truth,
But who will answer?

Side by side two people stand,
Together vowing, hand-in-hand
That love’s imbedded in their hearts,
But soon an empty feeling starts
To overwhelm their hollow lives,
And when they seek the hows and whys,
Who will answer?

On a strange and distant hill,
A young man’s lying very still.
His arms will never hold his child,
Because a bullet running wild
Has struck him down. And now we cry,
“Dear God, Oh, why, oh, why?”
But who will answer?

High upon a lonely ledge,
a figure teeters near the edge,
And jeering crowds collect below
To egg him on with, “Go, man, go!”
But who will ask what led him
To his private day of doom,
And who will answer?

If the soul is darkened
By a fear it cannot name,
If the mind is baffled
When the rules don’t fit the game,
Who will answer? Who will answer? Who will answer?
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!, Hallelujah!

In the rooms of dark and shades,
The scent of sandalwood pervades.
The colored thoughts in muddled heads
Reclining in the rumpled beds
Of unmade dreams that can’t come true,
And when we ask what we should do,
Who… Who will answer?

‘Neath the spreading mushroom tree,
The world revolves in apathy
As overhead, a row of specks
Roars on, drowned out by discotheques,
And if a secret button’s pressed
Because one man has been outguessed,
Who will answer?

Is our hope in walnut shells
Worn ’round the neck with temple bells,
Or deep within some cloistered walls
Where hooded figures pray in halls?
Or crumbled books on dusty shelves,
Or in our stars, or in ourselves,
Who will answer?

How many of us could find answers to these questions? What would you say to your child if they asked you, “How come God took away my baby brother? Aren’t there many paths that lead to God? How do we know Jesus is the only answer? Can’t we just be good people and go to heaven? Is sex before marriage really wrong? How do I know the Bible is real? If God is so good, how come he lets bad things happen? Are all my lesbian friends going to hell?”

Yes, kids are asking these questions, and earlier than one would think. A recent study showed that 39.8% of young adults who attended church growing up but no longer go to church, first began having doubts in middle school (2). Middle school! Another study tells us that 61% of today’s young adults who used to be regular church attenders are now “spiritually disengaged”(3).

Are my children among these statistics? Are my children already gone? Oh God, I hope not. I definitely know they are asking questions and ‘working through their salvation’, but they are also at that age where Mom and Dad’s answers are not good enough.

My heart aches.

I pray daily that a trusted adult would walk alongside my children and answer their questions. I pray that someone would show them that Mom and Dad’s views are not antiquated, but true and real. I pray that someone would lead them to their own relationship with Jesus, through whom all things were made. I pray that there would be someone ‘who will answer’.

The most important thing you can do for anyone who has questions is this: validate their questions. In doing this, you are validating them as a person and treating their curiosity with the respect it is due, even when the motive behind the question may be simply to “get you”. My son, I’m sure trying to goad me, asked “Mom, what if there is no God?” I said, “You know Seth, that is a really good question. What do you think the answer is?” An entire discussion ensued about what life would be like without ‘God’. I did not need to try to persuade him that God does indeed exist. He wouldn’t have listened anyway. Instead, we explored the question together. We actually had fun doing it and I think we both learned something in the process.

For those who still have young children, please do not let Sunday’s be the only time you talk about God. Do not think that Sunday School or Christian schools is enough to lead them to a life-long relationship with Jesus. It is still the parent’s job to train their kids in the way they should go. Purpose in your heart to make an intentional, consistent daily time to meet with God together. Show them that God is your number one priority; not school, not work, not sports, not TV or games, but God. Connect the topics they learn at Church or school throughout the week to the ‘real” world or they will simply become fairy tales without relevance in their lives. Cultivate your own passion for God. Dig into the Word, not for knowledge, but for a deeper relationship with the Creator of the Universe. Wrestle with God and ask Him tough questions that you may have.

If you are spending a good portion of your time working to leave a legacy for your children, remember that Jesus encourages us to store up our treasures in Heaven. What better treasure is there than to spend an eternity with our children?

I will leave you with the words of exhortation Paul gave to Timothy:

You must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true for you know you can trust those who taught you. You have been taught the Holy Scriptures from childhood and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus.

 

 1 Originally sung in Spanish with the title “Aleluya #1”, it was translated into English by Sheila Davis and sung by Ed Ames. It is titled “My Love is Gone from Me” and can be found on the 1968 album Who Will Answer?

 2 Ham, Ken & Beemer, Britt.  Already Gone  Green Forest: Master Books, May 2012.   

 3 Barna Research Online, “Teenagers Embrace Religion but Are Not Excited About Christianity,” January 10, 2000, www.Barna.org.