Random questions – the ones that often pop into your head at inconvenient moments. Know what I mean? Just as you settle down for sleep, some random thing starts your mind working. Here’s one: “What colour eyes do flamingoes have?”
Being kind, I’ve included a photo to give you the answer (and prevent insomnia tonight).
Another good question: why are flamingoes so brightly coloured? Certainly not as camouflage- though a swirling mass of wading and flying flamingoes is quite bewitching to watch! Colours and shapes move like a kalaidoscope image. Predators must be confused. Anyway, flamingoes are pretty!
Little children learn by asking questions. Working out exactly what they want to know (and why!) is a key parental talent. Quite randomly their interest flits from subject to distractions… and then they reach the (irritating) stage of endlessly repeating the question all adults dread… “Why?”
Learning is inspired by curiosity. Scholarship, science, philosophy and theology all develop as questions are asked; and positive and negative answers are both very valid.
Some Christians I have known are frightened to ask questions- life and faith are simpler when a “system” provides clear directions. Let’s not rock the boat… Others have been notable for asking questions all the time: and a few have just blurted thoughts randomly and kept on asking “Why?”
What if you could ask God any question you like? Actually, you can. It’s the way to learn and grow. And the negative answers are as important as the “good” answers. (Questions I asked as a child often had answers beyond my understanding, but neither my parents nor God ever told me to “shut up” or “Don’t be silly.” So I learned that asking questions is a good thing!) As a pastor and preacher I have had many questions directed to me as a (so-called) “expert” and I, in turn, have asked many questions about God, about the Bible, about theology, and about how to help others understand and apply godly truth.
A few times apparently random questions have popped up in my mind at odd and inconvenient times. When my health was suffering as a pastor in Luton, I kept asking “God, what should I do?” It seemed very strange when the response seemed to be “What do you WANT to do?” A random response! Isn’t God supposed to TELL us what we should be doing???
As Woody Allen is reported to have said “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.”
But the process made me stop and think. That meant in a fairly short time, I could gather all the facts about my illness, and begin to think creatively… “IF I can’t carry on as pastor, how could I serve the Lord and the people of God differently?” Then I sought to work it out practically and prayerfully, aiming to offer the Lord what I could do instead of only grieving my loss.
One thing that came out of that process was the beginning of “Look, See, Pray” as a website and Facebook page- nearly seven years ago.
I might have moped and stamped my foot at God because “my” original plans weren’t working out as expected. Instead, I have been able to write and reflect on faith; use my hobby of photography in a positive way, and try to put a bit of wholesome content and humour onto the worldwide web in a small but healthy way. Perhaps one of these posts will be a “random question” that helps another person begin to explore new ways of knowing and growing? Rather than listening to (the talented but strange) Woody Allen, can I point to the solid advice of James the Apostle? He obviously believed that life wasn’t random- and that God does have our best futures in mind.
James wrote : “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil.” (James 4:13-16).