More questions than answers

Still life
We were always meant to live a still life
But somehow we got trapped into the fast life
The cast life
Where everyone plays a partth-15

You lose yourself in the fast life
In the fast pace of the rat race
Where no one knows who you are
And nobody cares
If there really is a God
And He has something to say
We would never hear it
‘Cause the noise is in the way

Still life
We were always meant to live a still life
Where everyone can see our real life
Be still and know who is God

These are the lyrics to what became a signature song for my 1973 album, “Still Life,” that launched the first half of my career as a singer/songwriter and recording artist of what was to be known as contemporary Christian music. That album included songs like “Setting of the Sun,” and “Simple Pleasures,” that were simple songs with simple, reflective themes, because life was, well … simple, and uncomplicated then.

Ten years later, in a song on my ninth album appropriately titled “Between the Answers,” I had the following lyrics — part of a song, “It’s Still Life,” that was in many ways a parody of that earlier song.

I used to dump the puzzle on a table
And put it back together in a dayth-16
But now it sits undone
The table’s overrun
With pieces no one showed me how to play
In one hand I’ve collected all the answers
With the other I’m just trying to survive
Living on the ledge
Hanging on the edge
Is keeping every ounce of faith alive

It’s still life
But not as still as it once seemed
It’s still life
And I never would have dreamed
That the answer would have so many questions
He’s the same
And it’s still life

It’s a little different story. Not to refute the simple truths of those earlier songs, it’s just that those songs no longer matched the reality of my experience. My life had taken on added responsibilities of marriage, family and career, and I was not necessarily welcoming those responsibilities with joy. Ten years earlier, I had all the answers. Now I had all the questions the answers were supposed to be for, and I was finding out that they don’t always match up.

If I were to choose which of these songs most nearly represents my current reality, I would have to choose the second one. That I am still dealing with the same issues I was struggling with 20 years ago is admittedly my fault, but in spite of that, He’s the same; and it’s still life.

This last weekend was the reunion I wrote about last week of our church youth group from the 60s. It was incredible. We sang some songs from those years together, heard some stories, and saw some pictures of our young faces staring back at us, and this is the one thing we could all say through the divorces, the struggles and the losses represented in that room … He’s the same.

Yes, He’s the same. He’s been with us all along, and we’ve come back together to celebrate that. Fifty years of faithfulness — not ours, but His. Fifty people letting each other know that we’re still here and still believing, and ready for the next adventure He has for us. As in the words to the last verse of our closing song:

May I run the race before me
Strong and brave to face the foe
Looking only unto Jesus
As I onward go

He’s the same … and it’s still life.

Join us in praying for those in Nepal who have lost homes, loved ones, and in many cases their whole way of life. Way too many questions for answers here, but in spite of that — even in face of such disaster — He is still the same, and will comfort all who call on Him.

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11 Responses to More questions than answers

  1. Brad says:

    Thanks for these thoughts. I recently heard an author at a book launch (Through Dust and Darkness by Jeremy Kroeker) talk about his faith journey that started in a very evangelical home and has taken many twists and turns since then. He made a profound statement that still has me thinking, he said about his upbringing, “I was given the answers before I had the questions.” There was something that really struck me with that, especially since I can relate a lot to his faith journey and as I am trying to raise my kids to be Jesus followers, but not religious, pious Christians. For some reason we try to pump all the correct systematic theology into our kids/young people at a young age so they can avoid life’s pitfalls, and yet it’s probably when they have fallen in a pit that they will be the most receptive to the truth. So rather than focus on getting all the correct information into my kids heads, this is a good reminder to be journeying alongside them (for the long haul) and teaching them that it’s about the relationship with God through all the ups and downs of life.

  2. Mark Seguin says:

    Luv to add to today’s heart warming Catch – Thx God He is still the same as He was 50 yrs. ago and will always be the same. Can’t remember which Bible book, chapter & verse, so a Mark’s paraphrase: There’s no changing in Him, Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today and tomorrow – I can’t tell y’all how many times, in the seemingly forever changing World – the assurance I received when this ol’ World was changing a bit too fast 4 me, yet that verse, which i know believe / think is out of Hebrews (?) help me to feel blessed from Him becauz of the “Still Life” 🙂

  3. TimC says:

    My daughter hit me with a question yesterday. I’m still searching for some kind an answer.

    Her life is hard. She lives with me; which I’m sure is doubly hard for her. She got mad and left home when my wife threw me out. She is 21, has a 2 year old, and no husband, or man-friend (I hate the term “boyfriend”.) She has a car that refuses to run, a part-time job, but not enough income to cover the repairs or other transportation, or babysitting. I’m in a very similar situation, so I can’t help her very much.

    So after throwing her Bible and devotional book at the wall and leaving a dent, she asked me, “Why doesn’t God step in and help after I’ve asked Him to?”

    I don’t know. I’m still working on that.

    • Mark Seguin says:

      Wow, so sorry brother TimC for what you & your daughter are going through, I sincerely wish I had an answer – I don’t but can honestly ‘say’ I’ll keep her & you in my thoughts & prayers that He does step in, soon in some manner that you’ll both be able to see, touch, feel and know it come from our God…

    • bobenearSeattle says:

      Hi Tim,
      This is probably not even a close-to-the-ballpark answer you’re seeking concerning your conundrum but I found this little gem written by John several years ago. Perhaps it may help.
      And, don’t despair my friend – neither you nor your daughter are alone (even though it may seem so). I pray for Peace, Encouragement, and Lightheartedness to embrace and guide both of you…

      Sparrows and puppies and you
      by John Fischer

      “Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.” (Matthew 10:29)

      I wonder. Did Jesus pick sparrows for this illustration for a reason? Was He just trying to say that God doesn’t miss anything, or did He mean to say that God cares about losing even one sparrow? Am I right to detect a tone of compassion here?

      I believe I am. Especially when He puts a value on one sparrow (a half a penny) and then concludes: “So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.” The subject is not just God’s omniscience and omnipresence, it is the value he places on life itself — all living things — from creatures on land and sea and in the air, to all human beings made in His image, to you and me personally. God notices, and He cares, and He doesn’t miss a thing.

      This is good for a number of reasons. First it’s good because it means that God cares that our new little puppy died on Tuesday before we even had a chance to decide on a name for it.

      She was so cute, and she declined so fast from the spunky ball of energy we brought home last Friday to the skinny little thing that could barely hold up its head yesterday morning. These words of Jesus assure me that if it was hard for me to see her like this, it was hard, too, for God.

      But it also says something greater for us. It says that God, who notices sparrows and puppies, is noticing you — and not just when you fall; He’s noticing everything about you, because you have great worth in His eyes. And those of you who are struggling, I ask you to stop and ponder this. If a sparrow and a puppy have worth to God, so that one cannot fall to the ground apart from Him, how much more does your heavenly Father value you? Believe it, because it’s true, not because I say so, or because you feel it or don’t feel it. Believe it, because it’s true!

  4. kevinm1957 says:

    I too grew up in a household and church that provided all the “answers”. And like said above, they didn’t fit the questions once I had the questions. Perhaps the hardest lesson for me to learn was that the answers change from time to time in tiny detail. And that while I need to pay attention to the “answers” I already have, the most important answers don’t come until they are needed (and after I ask for them). And harder than that was learning that the answer made no sense, until I got to where the question no longer was relevant (or perhaps I should say it no longer needed an answer). In other words, I don’t get to know why until I get to where I don’t need to know why. He gives me what I need when I need it (not when I think I need it, but exactly when it is needed). I don’t claim to be a “fan” of this, but it is the way He works.

    • jwfisch says:

      Yes. And we find that ultimately there is only one answer to everything: Jesus. The learning process is finding out how and why He is.

  5. Pingback: More Questions Than Answers | Wild Frontier's Blog Page

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