In each of our journeys, there is a question that drives and guides the paths we take. While that may seem confining to some, the reality is that the question evolves and morphs as the journey continues. The question that drives us is not static, but it is dynamic. New information, new experiences, new insights, new people, new places, etc. influences the way that we see that question and can give it new life when it becomes stale. The question does not stay the same because we do not stay the same.
For Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the question he pursued the rest of his life was, “What is the church?” Bonhoeffer grew up in Germany in a family that can be described as an intellectual amalgamation of religion, the arts, humanities, science, and reason. The influences on Bonhoeffer are staggering and the pedigree of his family is one that would make your jaw drop. Bearing this in mind, Bonhoeffer’s initial desire to pursue the path of the theologian came from a young age. When he was fourteen, he made the decision to tell his family it was his desire to pursue studying theology. However, it was his holiday in Rome during his years in university that would light the spark to his driving question.
On Palm Sunday in 1924, Bonhoeffer attended Mass at St. Peter’s. He wrote, “The universality of the church was illustrated in a marvelously effective manner. White, black, yellow members of religious orders – everyone was in clerical robes united under the church. It truly seems ideal.” Metaxas notes that this was the time when Bonhoeffer saw the church’s transcendence of race and national identity.
Throughout Bonhoeffer’s life, the question of the universality of the church, it’s implications for the lives of Christians, and how it was to interact with the world would push him into the arena (something I’ll pursue in a later post talking about Bonhoeffer’s insistence that the true church has skin in the game with the suffering and oppressed). But it started with stepping outside of what he knew and grew up with – namely, German Lutheran Christianity – into the world beyond it to gain new insights and to open his eyes.
The discovery of a driving question differs from person to person. For some, it is a huge, eye popping “burning bush” moment. For others, it is a gradual pilgrimage of discovery as the scales are slowly stripped from our eyes. A friend of mine used to always say, “We’re all on different journeys.” What forms and shapes one person may not do so for another, and that’s okay. The destination matters, but it is the journey that shapes us along the way.
…but maybe it isn’t so much that it is a question that drives us, but rather WHO drives us. The questions that drive us are not static because the One who inspires those questions is not static. We step along the road with humility and wonder as we journey toward a deeper understanding and transformation of the heart, mind, body, and soul.
May we lean into and reflect upon the journey that has brought us this far. The moment that we step out, the moment we experience life for the first time and take those first steps along that uncharted path where God is waiting for us…that’s always a journey worth taking.
 Ibid., 7.
 Ibid., 52.