I came across one of my favorite questions in the Gospels the other day—Who do you say that I am? Within those seven words is an endless fountain of contemplation that can be considered from a multiplicity of angles. Who at times might become what; say turns to draw, write, sculpt, see; am might slowly change to was or will be.
The first time I thought about actually answering the question was about nine years ago. Inquisitive by nature in school and at home as a child, I had known already that asking and answering questions could humble one’s self, open the heart and mind to a certain vulnerability. Either could expose a gap in knowledge and understanding as well as a curiosity and desire to expand. I remember thinking “How bold can you be?” Which was soon followed by “Then again, how many rhetorical questions does he ask? If the question is there, it is there to be answered.” There was also within me the joy of the back and forth exchanges that can lead to greater understanding, even in the midst of confusion. I realized that I wanted to know what my answer was. So pen in hand, I replied.
You are the raucous laughter and the wailing anguish of God; you are prophet, teacher, and friend. You are wisdom born of prayer, experience, and intimacy with God; you are sunrise and thunderstorm. You are gathering arms and quiet lullabies; you are word brought forth in the fullness of its light, its poetry, its beauty. You are courage and you are conviction; you are the sea wind that fills sails and sets birds to flight. You are eyes that see with a singular vision, ears that hear me before I have spoken, lips that speak to be understood; you are heart with an infinite capacity for truth. You are the perfect balance of haiku; you are body and you are blood; you are bread and wine and feast. You are justice, you are trust; you are compassion, pardon, and peace. You are human, you are spirit; you remain forever, in us, approachable glory.
What I wasn’t expecting was the reciprocal invitation to ask Jesus the question myself. There was nothing rhetorical about the reply.
Look at the stars! You are their brilliance in my eyes. Look at the water! You are my reflection. You are multicolored depths, like the wilds of the ocean. You are revealer and you are revelation. You are creator and you are creation. You are fine morning mist and tumbling, tossing, waves. You are the ever changing beauty of the moon; forever wondrous, forever inspiring, forever within my sight and within the reach of my arms.
Nelson Mandela once quoted Marianne Williamson in speech, saying that our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate—but rather that we are powerful beyond measure.
Faith teaches us that the power is the love of God working through us.
Go ahead. It’s okay to ask.
The answer might just knock your socks off. That’s okay too. Revelation can be like that.