The question that matters

Facing questions is routine in student life. Most questions are predictable: How many pages should I read for my reading report? Am I ready for this exam? When are my library books due? How many reports are due before the weekend? These and similar considerations pop up now and then, and the answers are simple.

Then there are questions teachers ask. These concern tests, examinations, and term papers. Students face consequences – pleasant or loathsome, depending upon the kind of answers they come up with and the reports they write. Sometimes the answers students give may affect their long-term learning process, since their output may help or hinder further academic and work opportunities. Hence, students are aware that their responsibility is to give accurate, clear, and straightforward answers. Their answers should show proficiency in the tested area of human knowledge, answers that may clearly expound all they have been able to store in their brains.

But then there are other questions that transcend these in importance and consequences. They go beyond testing what is in a textbook or what is presented in classroom discourse or discussion. They have to do with the core of life – its meaning and purpose. Consider the following:

Who am I? This question is not answered by providing a name, referring to someone such as your father, or stating your abode or citizenship. Each of these details provides some identity as to who one is, but does not sufficiently define the core of one’s being. The question may call for personal identification in terms of particular traits, likes or dislikes, weaknesses, and limitations. And other issues may arise too: What can I do with this specific combination of abilities and weaknesses? How can I make the most of the former, while blurring the latter? The question, Who am I? moves from personal traits to relational abilities, distortions, or achievements.

Where am I going? If the earlier question demands the delineation of identity, and that identity in terms of relationships, this question refers to one’s destination: What is my ultimate goal? How far am I planning to get? What role do I want to play in this world? What is my mission, that reaches beyond mere work and personal considerations? These questions do not offer ready-made and once-size-fits-all answers. They depend on your observations, monitoring, discussion, and reflections, not unlike a painstaking lab assignment, where isolated facts are not easily observable or finally verifiable. The question demands a long-range journey and perspective – ultimately putting the pieces of the puzzle all together to arrive at a meaningful destination. In this journey toward a meaningful terminus, even people who you think can be of assistance may not qualify to be so. Reaching a chosen destination is not achieved by delegation, even though such delegation may be of value, but by sweat, toils, dreams, and pressing forward toward the goal. Do not think even for one moment that another person may do what it is for you to accomplish.

Am I alone, or do I have any assistance? This is perhaps the ultimate expression of one’s helplessness and one’s reaching out for help from outside of oneself. Here’s where that mysterious force comes to play its role: faith in Someone higher than oneself. The Bible identifies that Someone as Christ. As one saint of long ago remarked, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

No matter what continent you live in, whether you are male or female, or whether you are in your freshman or senior year, sooner or later you will need to break away from your daily routine, from the hectic schedule and robot-like existence we all tend to live in, to look for a peaceful spot where you can find yourself and meet this God who promises to be your perpetual companion, and who will help you accomplish your goals and reach your destination.

“Of our own selves we can do nothing; but through Christ we can do all things. God intends that we shall be a help and blessing to one another, and that we shall be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. … God lives and reigns; and He will give us all the help we need. It is our privilege at all times to draw strength and encouragement from His blessed promise, ‘My grace is sufficient for you.’” Ellen G. White, Evangelism, 98

If you have not answered these three questions of existential and eternal import, let me challenge you that the moment to ask and face those questions is now. You have no time to waste. That may mean giving priority to such questions and to that Person who holds the key to the right answer. Seize that moment and make a rendezvous between you and God. Go to a quiet place in nature and please, give your smartphone a break; that can wait. Instead, text Him a message. Summon Him up, ask for His help, and He will gladly come and show you the way to your ultimate destination.

— Susana Schulz, Managing Editor