You know what lots of universities are now looking for in students applying for admission?
Yes, they’re looking at what you’d expect. Grade Point Average. Test Scores. Extracurricular Activities.
What’s on the list that maybe wasn’t always?
Yes. Good, old-fashioned curiosity — the kind that leads us to learn new things, ask good questions and figure things out.
Do you think curiosity is useful in any way when it comes to faith?
Take this little excerpt of a passage from Exodus 3:
Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”
What if Moses hadn’t followed his curiosity? Imagine the passage a bit more like this:
Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “Whoa. There’s a bush burning over there. It’s on fire, but the fire isn’t burning up the bush. That is weird. And kind of creepy. Did I eat something weird at lunch today? I better go get a nap.”
Fortunately for us — and the people of Israel who would later be delivered by Moses, thanks to that burning bush encounter with God — Moses’ wonder led him to investigate. And his investigation led him to an amazing discovery.
He didn’t discover a scientific explanation which explained how the properties of this particular bush made it flame retardant.
Instead, he discovered that the God who loved the people Moses had left behind in Egypt had an invitation for him. Out of that bush came a whisper, and a command. It was a moment that changed everything.
There’s a cool thing you might notice if you look at Luke’s account of the Resurrection of Jesus. In Luke 24, after Jesus has risen, He appears to two unnamed disciples on the Road to Emmaus. And He doesn’t just drop in for a chit-chat. He doesn’t even allow the disciples to recognize who He is.
First, it seems He wants to have a conversation with them and help them find understand of who He truly is. The Savior. The Risen Lord. The promised Messiah the Jews had been waiting for. Only after He’s had a chance to expound the Scriptures to those two disciples does He sit at a table and break bread with them — and somehow allow them to recognize Him as Jesus.
He appeared again to His disciples, and in modern English I think Jesus would say something like,
“Guys! Guys, come on! We’ve been over this. Remember when I was with you before and I told you that the things Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms said about Me would have to be fulfilled? Is this ringing any bells, guys? This is it! This is the fulfillment of what they were talking about!” (That’s my paraphrase of Luke 24:44)
Luke goes on to say, “He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.” (Lk. 24:45)
In Mark’s account, Jesus is frustrated with His disciples and rebukes them because they didn’t believe the first disciples who’d seen Him and told them. In one way or another, each account of the death and Resurrection of Jesus seems to indicate that Jesus wants His disciples to believe that what He told them was going to happen all along actually did happen, and now they should go and do the things He told them beforehand He would want them to do.
But what of curiosity?
Genuine curiosity is a beautiful thing. Because if we throw a party and you bring the brownies and I bring the chips and salsa, Jesus is the guy who we can always count on to bring the understanding.
When you read the Bible and you come to a passage that might as well remain un-translated from the Greek or Hebrew because it’s so opaque to you, why not look for some understanding? Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Bible, and many others like it, are available online for you — just a click away.
When something difficult is happening in your day, in your week, in your life as a whole, be curious enough to ask God if He can bring some understanding to the party. He truly loves doing that. Maybe He’ll whisper some words of encouragement to your heart with that still, small voice of His. Maybe He’ll lead you to a Scripture that will help you to see what you’re going through from a whole new perspective.
I read a beautiful children’s book with my children last year that has stuck with me because it had such incredible wisdom to offer. The book was called What Do You Do With a Problem? and it’s an artistic rendering of a person struggling with a problem, feeling afraid of it on one page, trying to ignore it on another.
Eventually, the character realizes that his problem has a tiny gift — it has an opportunity inside of it.
Here’s where being curious fits in. Curiosity is often the thing that has taken me from I’m going to ignore this problem and hope it goes away to I’m going to look into this problem and see what could be inside of it.
We have refrigerators because someone was curious enough to see if he could solve the problem of always needing more ice for an ice box.
We have motorcars because someone was curious enough to see if he could come up with a better solution to travel than faster horses.
Even through the grief and pain and sorrow of losing my Dad, I stayed curious enough to believe that somehow I was going to see God’s goodness in the midst of all the hard and the sad. Would you believe God showed up? As I prayed for my Dad’s healing and for a personal Renaissance and a new season of life to come out of these dark days, a chaplain arrived in the hospital room to pray for us and for my Dad, using the exact phrase “a real Renaissance man” in reference to him — words which whispered to my soul, “The Renaissance you’re praying for already happened. Isn’t God good?”
You can bring sorrow. You can bring hurt. You can bring pain. You can bring guacamole or pita and hummus. Yes please to both. But Jesus will always bring understanding if you are willing to quiet your soul, listen whole-heartedly and, yes, sometimes this is the hard part, have the patience to wait for God’s clarity to meet you in God’s timing.
People often remember Steve Jobs for saying, “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”
One way of interpreting this interesting statement is to see it as an encouragement to stay curious. Don’t be fooled into thinking you know it all. There is more to understand. There is more to grasp. There is more wisdom, and more Truth and more Light yet to be revealed.
Take a moment to stare at a cricket and wonder about those oddly-shaped legs of his, and how they propel him forward so well.
Notice a rock on the sidewalk and wonder at the thought that it’s much, much older than you.
Welcome Jesus to bring understanding to any and every party you ever think of throwing.
In short, stay curious.
Are you curious to check out:
The children’s book, What Do You Do With a Problem? by Kobi Yamada
A Fascinating Hummingbird Story over at Smarter Every Day on YouTube
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