Years ago, when I was a younger nerd, I used to play a trick with my phrases in order to explore the ways the same grouping of words, kept in the same order, could be used to derive a myriad of intended meanings. For instance, put together the four words (what, do, you, want) and you come up with more than four potential intentions. Notice the stress (or lack of stress) on each word:
- WHAT do you want?
- What DO you want?
- What do YOU want?
- What do you WANT?
- … and even the philosophical statement of realization: What do you want.
Maybe I'm stretching it a bit, but I think these four words put together in this order are extremely profound. In a question form, in any stress formula, this phrase gets to the heart of the heart of the matter. In a periodic statement, it is the answer to the question. Mind numbing, eh.
That's why I find it interesting that the first words uttered by Jesus in the book of John are these four:
"When the two disciples of John the Baptist heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, 'What do you want?'"
I find myself some days just following, not really fully alert to what I'm doing. Perhaps I'm in a routine habit, or perhaps I am subconsciously aware that I simply need to be with Jesus. But most of the time I think I'm just running through the motions of life, curious about Jesus, wondering, worrying, busy, self-centered, hurried, concerned, helpful, disassociated, proactive, passive aggressive, productive, lazy, in my car, on the couch, in my office, at Starbucks, watching TV, writing a project, etc, etc. Then, some-thing or some-one or some-Spirit points me to Jesus… and I start to follow, behind him, from a little distance, not fully sure of what I'm doing…
Then Jesus startles me by saying four words: What do you want?
How should I answer?