Scary Answers

I teach a class called “Imagination” as part of the core curriculum for Entrepreneurship at OSU.  The OKSU OSU.  I teach and assign projects in an “Open Ended” manner, on purpose.  Even when I explain, “If I tell you how to do a journal entry, and what topics to cover, I would not have seen the 20+ formats I have seen work creatively for  so many students.”

Three students will drop the class immediately when we leave the room.

One bright eyed, intent student will ask, “How many words do you want in an entry?”

We have taught students in years of schooling that there is one correct answer, the teacher’s way of doing things, and no matter what the teacher says, she is absolutely looking for one answer in the discussion.  She will smile through all the other answers, but she ends the discussion when we arrive at the right answer.

In creativity, and in innovation, we can find hundreds of answers, and all might work. — with work.

Christianity seems similar.  Many people accept that we are a mess, in need of saving, and God did this elaborate, astonishing thing in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus that we only have to accept.  One answer.  Does not demand too much to accept.

Craig Groeschel preached this morning in his Selfless series.  He described how to see God in the moment (even in the grind) and develop new answers, new growth, see the tough things through to the end.

Crickets.  Twenty people applaud, and the rest sit in super quiet mode, eyes a little glazed over.  Millions of correct answers — with work.  Too much for some people.

The on”oanswer fits all” is a great way to build audiences, to increase church attendance.  The millions of possible answers, the kind we must work out not knowing if we are right, trusting through the falling on your face times, and trusting God is guiding — builds Christ followers.

Graduate from the answers Someone else constructed, so you only have to answer “I accept” or “I am afraid” to the answers that mutate, grow, stretch us, slap us into next week, and force us to depend on God to follow God.

It is scarier, more demanding, and full of pitfalls, like all good adventures.


Occasionally, I react to life with numbness.  Unintentionally, my body does it for me.

I work, teach, research and interact with students and others.   That weekly roller coaster starts Sunday afternoon early and runs through Thursday night, late.  Then add a few appointments for Friday and Saturday, projects, wonderful intrusions by kids and grand kids, an upkeep on ten acres and my week feels packed plus.

Then a close friend of Jill’s commits suicide.  Cat is sick – again.  Car dies in another city with wife in it.  The repairman pronounces the washer on life support, two weeks max.  Two projects stall.  Cash flow in one business is non-existent.  Two couples are divorcing, barring divine intervention.  Divine intervention’s response time seems slow.  Twenty small things all clamor for attention.  Bodily functions are not in the green zone.  Two may be redlining.

And I notice I am numb.  Something happens – again.  It is as if my nerve endings retreat a few millimeters inside the skin: insulated.  I feel less.  My heart beats, but places emotions offline for now.  My mind focuses on what’s before me, but all other incoming information is on alert — unless it screams its importance self-evidently, it’s pushed into background noise.  New thoughts must present themselves as salient with no emotional volatility or they go into a pile.  Oh, and life, as witnessed by paper and file piles, is backlogged.


I can fight numb, except sometimes it is my body’s way of saying, “Your ticket has been punched.  The Conductor is not passing back through the car for a while.  Shut up.  Pull in.  Breathe.  We will get back to you.”  Maybe I should rest inside numb for an hour or day.

Numb is not quite like shock.  Even if they fell alike, they are cousins, not the same person.   Numb seems to arise in response to an agglutination of antecedents.  Shock usually slipstreams behind trauma: singular, pronounced trauma.

I am numb.  The day is beautiful outside.  I will attack one more pile of paper, and go sit out on the deck to see if the dogwood tree will join in with the redbud trees this year.  It has languished the past two years, but maybe it will escape its cool numbness and blossom.

I might as well, too.  In an hour.