Word a Year — Ask

Did you ever hear that old radio dialogue, I think between Abbott and Costello, about who’s on first? It’s hilarity derived from the sheer absurdity of the conversation–at a baseball game, one guy asking “who’s on first?” The other guy responding, “yes, Who’s on first.” And back and forth they’d go, never once realizing they were saying two different things.

As 2016 approached, I felt a bit like that. I would ask God, “what do You want my word to be?”

He would respond, “Ask.”

And I would say with a bit of a huff in my voice, “That’s what I’m doing. I’m asking what You want my word to be.”

Again, I’d hear, “Ask.”

Back and forth we’d go.

I felt more than a little sheepish when it finally dawned on me that ASK might be my word for 2016.


As I sought to clarify, the conversation changed only slightly, reminiscent of the Sixteen Candles conversation where Jake Ryan questioned that Samantha had gone to church to get married. I kept questioning God:


“Yes, ask.”


“Yes, ASK!”

Throwing my hands in the air, I finally surrendered to this three-letter word. And from then on, I changed what I asked to, “Lord, what do I need to be asking? Who do I need to ask?”

And over the course of 2016, He showed me.

Turns out 2016 held some significant events for our family, and I’d find myself needing to ask God quite frequently for strength, direction, and help. The truth is…I needed to learn how to look to Him and ask for those things instead of relying on myself.

So, as my second-born was engaging in all his second-semester-senior-year high school activities, I found myself tearfully asking God how I’d ever survive the grief of letting him go.

When my youngest landed himself at the ER for the second time in six months, this time with two broken arms, I asked God most fervently how this young man would be able to meet the demands of his high school classes, not to mention personal hygiene.

As my husband entered the second year of his new job, I would ask God how He could be so good as to provide for us, yet again, so faithfully.

While I continued to navigate my new responsibilities as a supervisor at work, I found myself asking God quite desperately, “How do I do this?”

And, as my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary approached, I asked God how I could honor them in some semblance of a way that would demonstrate my gratitude and love for them.

I was humbled and amazed how over and over again God would answer.

He surrounded me with friends who were facing similar grief as we watched our sons’ friend group wind things up and go off in a dozen different directions.

He provided coaches and teachers and friends who encouraged and helped a struggling guy in two arms casts, offering grace and support every step of the way.

He’d whisper, “I’ve got you,” every time I started to doubt His provision.

He’d meet me in the middle of His Word, offering truth to combat every lie.

He’d put an experienced person, a great book, or a perfectly-timed blog post to meet every need in my job.

He inspired me with creativity every time I sought it–even if it was called Pinterest a few times.

Every time I asked, God responded. Not ever audibly, but sometimes in a deep knowing, through a strong sense of right-ness that needed to be acted on, or by way of a timely provision. He always answered.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks the door will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8)

But this was nothing new to me. I’ve known a long time that God hears me and responds to me each time I call out to Him–although so often His way and His time don’t look like mine. Looking back, however, I think 2016 was the kind of year I needed a lot of reminding that it’s not only okay to ask God for what I need, but it’s necessary.

And for this independent, slightly stubborn, American girl, that was a significant shift.

It’s necessary for us to look to God for all our needs if we’re to do more than survive this life day-by-day.

As this reality of ask soaked in, I started to recognize a new layer, a new facet of the word and its meaning. Ironically, it was related to my 2015 word, communicate.

I was training myself to ask God, rather than tell Him, what I needed. AND, I was seeing that a similar strategy was quite effective in many of my earthly relationships. It was amazing to see how so many people in my life responded better if I asked them a question rather than offer a statement.

By asking my husband for his opinions about a particular situation rather than telling him what I thought, communication opened up between us by leaps and bounds. 

To ask my oldest son a question about the significant person in his life rather than tell him what I thought he needed to know removed defensiveness and gave him room to think about the situation from a different perspective.

When I asked the gal I supervised questions instead of jumping right in with all my thoughts on her given issue, we were both given space to think, listen, and respond. And, miracle of miracles, I no longer felt like I had to have all the answers before entering the conversation. We could figure it out together.

Do you see the common theme here? God was showing me that to ask others for their thoughts was not only a communication barrier-breaker but a relief for me, as well. I was learning that a) I was not always right and b) I didn’t need to be.

Pretty sure I just heard a mic drop.

And, so as we enter into a new decade, let’s take my ask lessons to heart.

God is faithful. If we ask, He will answer.

God is trustworthy. When we make our requests and listen for His responses, we’ll find new strength, wisdom, and hope.

God is good. To look to Him for all our asks is to trust His good heart. All the time.

God is present. Simply put–that’s why we ask to begin with. He is here. God with us. Ready to respond to all our asks.

So, I hope moving forward each of us will remember to ask more of God and of others, giving space for listening, thought, and response. May we trust His ways. May we recognize He always knows best. May we realize that other people deserve to be heard.

Let us ask.

Continuing to ask my questions, Shelley Johnson

Published by Shelley Linn Johnson

Lover of The Word. And words. Cultivator of curiosity about all things Christ. Lifelong learner who likes inviting others along for the journey. Recovering perfectionist who has only recently realized that rhythms are so much better than stress-inducing must-do's.

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