Parasites and Wonder – how questions help our Bible study

Is it a car, is it a boat? No, it’s a car on a boat – or, more precisely, a car body on a narrow boat.

Every new day brings a fresh strange sight on our local canal path. The car in the picture has been stripped of its engine, transmission and wheels. But the rest of it is sitting on the boat. Some questions:

  1. How did it get there? 
  2. Why? 
  3. What is it used for? 
  4. When is its canal tax due?
Some questions remain unanswered, but that does not mean the questions are bad. Questions are good, even when we don’t get answers. Questions prove we are alive. Let me illustrate …..
I love the TED talks. I listened to one yesterday. It was about parasites. One particular parasite is ingested by a shrimp, causing the shrimp to turn pink and to clump together with other shrimps so that flamingos will see them, eat them, and provide the right conditions for the parasite to reproduce. An extraordinary story. I could not listen to the talk without asking, “Why does this happen?”, “Why does it have to be this way?”, “How does the shrimp feel about the deal?”

The story and the unanswered questions take me to a place of wonder. Wonder is caused by questions. I like to be in wonder because wonder reminds me there is a God. Hence the importance of asking questions.

When do we ask questions? When things surprise us. When do things stop surprising us? When we stop asking questions. One of the reasons I read the Bible is to find questions. If I search for questions I am never dissatisfied, but if I search for answers I am often dissatisfied. That’s not to say the Bible does not have answers (indeed, it has all the most important answers humankind needs to know), but if we stop looking for questions we stop growing. If all we are looking for is answers it means we have already decided what the questions are, and that limits what God can teach us.

Sometimes people of faith feel bad if they have questions, but Jesus rarely rebuked people for having a question (e.g. Matthew 24.3). He only corrected those who came to him with questionable motives behind their questions (e.g. Matthew 22.15-22).  My recommendation is to to keep asking God questions – just do it with the right spirit, and allow Him to retain the right to leave some unanswered.

I’ll be back to the canal in a week or so. If the boat is still there I’ll be tempted to ask the owners what the deal is with the car. But maybe I won’t ask. The mystery is more interesting.

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