welcome to the 8 part series on One Question that can change your life. An *unfinished* pre-read
Chapter 1: The locating question
Where are you?
Let’s begin at the beginning. No seriously. The beginning, or shortly thereafter. You don’t have to believe in the Bible to follow the thought, but a basic understanding of the story will help. The Judeo-Christian creation story goes like this. An almighty Sensient Being decided to create reality as we know it. Over 7 periods of time called days, this Almighty Being made everything that we see and don’t see. The world as we know it. And on the 6th Day, he created a man and named him Adam. He created him in his image, meaning that man was not simply flesh and blood but spirit as well.
This man was first assigned a task. A purpose. He, and afterwards his spouse Eve, were assigned care of the Garden, a place full of all the goodness of the world. Man had only one limit placed on him. He was not to eat of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. One limit, and unlimited paradise. Our ancestor struggled against the one constraint placed by the creator. The story tells of a serpent who deceives Eve, followed by Adam’s knowledgeable rebellion.
“Their eyes were opened and they knew they were naked. They made covering for themselves of leaves.” Humanity’s second step into brokenness was hiding. They covered themselves. So far, I hope I’ve covered no new territory here. Then, as the story goes, the creator came for his usual afternoon stroll, but Adam and Eve were hiding.
“Where are you?” God calls out to Adam and Eve.
The first question of creation. Where are you? Easy to slide over, our answer is “in the bushes, obviously. Where else would they hide?”
Do we think that this Almighty Creator was confused about the location of his highest creation? When God asks a question in the scriptures, what’s the point? Certainly, it is not that He is confused, or lacking information. The world Adam had known up until that point was safe. He was totally accepted and unashamed. In this new world, he was disoriented. Good and evil, moral choices and implications are now flooding his mind. Where he once walked naked and unashamed, he now hid and covered himself. God needed to help Adam locate himself in a world that he no longer recognized.
“Adam, where are you?”
One simple question but the answer set in motion the entire narrative of the Christian story. And this isn’t a book of theology. This is a book about One question. Ask someone for advice they’ve received, and they may give you trite answers. Ask them a question that has shaken them, and there will be a pause. Their eyes will lose focus as their inner person comes to life. Questions have a way of doing that.
The last few years of my life, I have been involved in coaching. Coaching as a formal discipline emerged in the 70ies and 80ies, and now is a multibillion dollar industry based on this simple concept. Ask a question. Pause. And let the person locate themselves.
Certain questions are tough to answer. Mine is “Where are you from?” I hate that question. Am I from Arkansas, my birth state? East Texas where I spent my first 7 years? Luxembourg where I spent most of my elementary and high school years? Minnesota, my current home? Africa, where I spent 13 years? “Where are you from?” is an easy way of locating someone. It is a shortcut to helping understand the dynamics of a person’s life. “I’m from a small town in Nebraska” tells me something, “I’m from Upstate New York” something else. For a time I lived in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. In a city of 6 million people, I found I strange that , “where are you from?” was never answered “here.” Everyone had a place that was a clue to the tribe you came from, your politics, your religion, and often your economic status. Where are you now? That one is easy.
Where are you? This One Question began humanity’s story and remains core to helping us understand ourselves.
ACTION Step: try saying “Where are you at with…(insert anything).” For example, where are you at with that decision? Where are you at with that project? Where are you at emotionally?