The Importance of ‘Why’
“Because I said so!” is an answer. It’s just not always the correct one. It communicates that I don’t really care enough about you to take the time to explain something I probably think you won’t understand in the first place. I think only God should be able to give that answer and even God does so sparingly. Check out Leviticus 19 for example. God is laying out all kinds of do’s and don’ts; shall’s and shall not’s. Now if you read through those and think about them, you can figure out the ‘why’. A lot of it is common sense if you look closely and think about the implications – the ‘why’. But human beings as a whole have never been known for using a lot of common sense. 12 times in 37 verses of LV 19 God says: “I am the LORD!” Do the math. ‘Do this.’ I’m the LORD. ‘Don’t do that!’ I’m the LORD. To sum it all up: “I’m the LORD!” That’s why! Because I said so and I can!
Some people are just wired to want to know ‘why’ more than others. These are the analytical folks who are always trying to understand what makes things tick. Inquiring minds want to know. In his book, “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” Steven Covey said that highly effective people know the ‘why’ and keep the ‘why’ in mind in what they plan and do. Begin with the end (the why) in mind. Engineers and architects – well, not all architects – put it this way: form follows function. The ‘why’ dictates the ‘what’ and ‘how’; the ‘when’ and ‘where’ and, well, everything really. Businesses and institutions (churches) and even individuals who don’t ask why or who settle for ‘because I said so’ or ‘because its always been done’ doom themselves to failure, frustration, irrelevance and eventual extinction.
So I planted the vines in the one spot they will get the most sun. Why? Around the first of the month I fertilize them. Why? I regularly water them. Why? This past weekend I pruned them. (See next week’s post about pruning) Why? Because the info from the University of Florida and Mississippi State University Agricultural Extension Offices said so? Well yes but… why? So those vines will fulfill their ‘why’: FRUIT! I planted them, nurtured them, watered them, fed them and pruned them to grow and bear much fruit. That’s why they exist:fruit. That’s why I put my time and effort into them: fruit.
There’s a song in Isaiah 5 about a vineyard. Its a sad song, even a tragic song about waste. The song tells of a vineyard planted skillfully and lovingly in the most fertile place. The owner worked tirelessly to prepare the place, planted the choicest of vines, watched over it and built a wine press and storage vat in anticipation of a good crop. But it yielded wild grapes instead of fine grapes. Sad songs they say so much. The vineyard owner let the vineyard go to ruin. Jesus said: “I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit.” That’s the ‘why’ of being called and chosen by Jesus; that we should bear fruit. All the branches have to do is what they were created to do in the first place: bear fruit. In order to do that they must do one thing: abide in the vine; stay connected. Its really difficult to tell by looking just where the vine stops and the branch begins. It is a seamless connection. And it is an illustration of the intimate relationship desired by God for us. Abiding is our part. Bearing fruit is the natural result of abiding. And here is the ‘why’: God’s glory. “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit.” Jn 15:8
I’m finding that there is another ‘why’ of the vineyard than the ‘why’ I had in mind when I first planted. The more I listen, the more I’m realizing the vineyard exists to help me know the Vinedresser better so a different kind of fruit may be borne. I pray it is so.
Oh, and hmmmm… Lv 19: 10 instructs vineyard owners: “Don’t pick all your grapes or gather all the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God.” I’ll have to ponder that.