The Weight of Why
“Why are you so polite with Me, always saying ‘Yes, sir,’ and ‘That’s right, sir,’ but never doing a thing I tell you? These words I speak to you are not mere additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundation words, words to build a life on.” Luke 6:46-47, The Message
Have you ever thought about questions in relation to what they would weigh, if we could indeed place them upon a scale? If you’ve ever been on a car trip with a preschooler, you know that questions can begin to pile up and, before long, their weight presses down upon you. While young children toss questions around like they’ve been given a lifetime supply, they do seem to have an uncanny sense that some are more valuable than others. We wish they’d stick with the cheap ones, but no…they hold on to the thick ones, the heavy ones, the weighty ones; for them, a question worth asking must be worth its weight in “why”, anything else is simply, well, child’s play! Need I illustrate this point? Okay…you asked for it:
- Why are we going to Aunt Janie’s? You said you don’t like Aunt Janie…should I ask her why you don’t like her when we get there?
- Why is our mail-woman called a mailman? Is that why she has to wear pants?
- Why do old men wear socks with their sandals? If they have cold feet, why wear sandals?
- Why don’t birds laugh? Don’t the worms tickle on the way down?
- Why can’t I run with a sucker in my mouth? Wouldn’t it be easy to pull out if I fell down with it?
I hope I can rest my case. The point is, children are not only prone to ask a lot of questions, but they start off (much to our dismay) by asking the weighty questions…the why questions. As they grow older, they become a bit miserly with their spending and, rather than lavishly spending their whys, they save them and circulate the less valuable, and also less weighty, questions of who, what, and when. It’s true that these are easier to transport, but when it comes to value, their exchange rate can’t hold a candle…or a pound of wax…to the why-o. (Okay, so sometimes I have to explain my jokes. I have a label maker for just such a purpose. They why-o is a play-off of the euro. Chortle here.)
So, that makes me wonder, why don’t we spend more of our whys? Why, in a country founded upon the weight of why-asking individuals, do we settle for the hollow sound of shallow questions that aren’t even weighty enough to support their own vocal inclination? What if our founding fathers had hoarded their whys and spent only their whos, whats, and whens? This is what the currency exchange would have looked like:
- Whys traded in:
- Why should we be ruled by a king who doesn’t have our best interest in mind?
- Why shouldn’t we be able to prosper from the work of our own hands?
- Why shouldn’t we be able to protect ourselves and our property?
- Why shouldn’t we be able to speak our mind…or write our thoughts?
- Why shouldn’t we be able to assemble together and worship as we choose?
- Exchanged for:
- Who’s going to do something about all these crazy taxes?
- What’s it going to take for someone to do something about all these Englishmen?
- When’s the next boat out of here?
Thank goodness we had some people willing to dig deep in their pockets and spend their whys. Where would we be without them…and where will we be if we don’t start letting go of some of our own?
- Why are our freedoms valuable?
- Why are they weighty and in need of being supported?
- Why do we have them at all…and why do they need to be renewed day by day…decision by decision…doer by doer?
The whos, whats, whens and wheres can only be spent when the whys have steadied the market. Unless we know why we’re doing something, an influx of questions with lesser weight will never steady an insolvent market nor stabilize an indecisive nation.
The weight of why. Of all the questions one can ask, this one is the heaviest. It is the root of all questions because it can be attached to…and anchor…all other questions. All one must do is add on, “But why?”, and a root shoots down as an answer grows up. Preschoolers know this; adolescents know this; adults forget this. We don’t want our decisions to sag from its weightiness, so we exchange why for small change questions. But, in doing so, we short-change ourselves. After all, wouldn’t we all be wiser if, instead of asking who, what, when, or where in regard to an incident, instead we asked why? Why would someone do that? Why didn’t they ask for help? Why can’t I forgive them?
Whys go deep; whys are heavy; whys mash toes. But, whys are constructive; whys are insightful, and whys bring healing. All other questions reflect what’s on the outside while the whys reveal what’s on the inside. And isn’t that where we all need to look…both within ourselves as well as within others? Why do I believe what I do? Why do I respond the way I do? Why should I believe what others say? Why should I acknowledge…align…act on what I’ve heard and seen?
Our Founding Fathers asked why, and we have a new nation because of it. Our Lord asked why, and we have a new heart because of it. Jesus asked a lot of questions while He walked the earth, but His purpose was different from ours. For us, we ask because we need the answers; for Jesus, He asked because He knew the answers…but He knew we needed to hear them from our own lips. Jesus also knew the weight of why. Listen to some of the heavy questions He asked:
- Why are you afraid? (Matt. 8:26)
- Why do you worry? (Matt. 6:28)
- Why are you crying? (John 20:15)
- Why do you look at the speck in another’s eye yet overlook the plank in your own eye? (Matt. 7:3-4)
- Why did you doubt? (Matt. 14:31)
- Why do you call Me Lord, Lord and do not do what I say? (Luke 6:46-47)
With each answer, the faulty thinking was revealed…and into that fault line, Jesus spoke words of truth and of healing. Whys have a way (or should I say weigh?) of pressing us so that, though the answer may be difficult to divulge, once delivered it dispels unwarranted fears, dismisses unjust judgments, and disperses wrongful motives.
Today is July 4th, 2016, our country’s 240th birthday. Why is it an important day to celebrate? Not just because it memorializes a day, but because it memorializes a belief: a belief in the weight of why. May we all stop long enough to give thanks for those individuals whose willingness to spend their whys paved the way for our opportunity to ask our whys.
- Why are our freedoms worth fighting for?
- Why do I have to engage in this battle?
- Why will I have to spend some of my own whys in order for my children to earn their own whys?
- Why, in my personal life, do I need to know another’s whys instead of only their whats, whens, and wheres?
- Why, in my spiritual life, do I need to know the greatest why…the weightiest why: why God sent His Son and why that Son died for me…and why I must not let this costly why stay in my pocket…but spend it again and again.
The weight of why. Do you feel it? Will you value it? Will you spend it? Our country needs you to; our market of values necessitates that you do; our Christian integrity demands that you do; our Heavenly Father beckons you to.