When I mention the word curiosity I wonder what comes to your mind. It is one of those words that can have many attached experiences and feelings connected to it. By definition it is in itself neither innately good nor bad, but can lead to either of those poles. Perhaps that is because I think it is a God-given gift. As such, it has incredible potential and the enemy knows it well and also seeks to use it to draw us to “the dark side.”
A dictionary defines curiosity this way: “a strong desire to know or learn something.”
At the very beginning of life we see an infant and later a toddler as a great example of curiosity. Their curiosity is what propels them forward to learn the most basic things. In that quest they sometimes get into danger or trouble, but without curiosity they would never learn.
Curiosity spurs our imagination and wonder. Can you imagine what curiosity and wonder filled Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden? Can you get a glimpse of how God allowed them to use it as they named the animals? We also see how the enemy used it to draw them away from trusting Him.
Early in our lives the risks of curiosity often result in attempts to control or box it in for the stated reason of protecting us. Sometimes formal education has left little room for it. Clay P. Bedford addressed the value of curiosity in education in these words:
“You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives.”
We all know the expression that “curiosity killed the cat” and yet a closer evaluation should remind us that curiosity resulted in the discovery of penicillin that has saved hundreds of thousands of lives. (Just one example of so many)
Curiosity has provided the grist for every new discovery we know, every new place or peoples, each invention or medicine. It is spurred on by wonder.
“It would be very difficult to draw a line between holy wonder and real worship; for when the soul is overwhelmed with the majesty of God’s glory, though it may not express itself in song, or even utter its voice with bowed head in humble prayer, yet it silently adores.” — Charles Haddon Spurgeon
To lose our sense of wonder would be to lose some of the very essence of God’s image imprinted on us.
Andy Stanley once said, “Everything in life conspires against our sense of wonder: age, experience, our jobs, and even our church.”
It was curiosity that caused Moses to do a double take when he saw the burning bush that was not consumed. After he stopped to look, God called out his name in one of the most arresting moments of the Old Testament story of Moses.
How curious was Nebuchadnezzar when the flames of the fiery furnace he had sentenced them to did not consume Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? How did that speak to Him of God when not even smoke attached to them and a fourth man “like a son of the gods” was visible in the furnace with the other three?
When I consider the title of Judith Kunst’s book, The Burning Word, regarding scripture and how we approach it, how can I miss that the “burning Word” is a metaphor for the burning bush? God invites us to discover Him there.
“In his actions and in his words God continually holds out revelation, holds out wisdom, but it is hidden, and we must seek it out. If you seek me, you will surely find me, says the Lord. I will be found by you.
Moses had the burning bush, we have the Bible…If I want to come close to the God of the Bible, to step onto the holy ground of his presence, then I must wake up my curiosity and look for God in the strange, hidden, and burning places of scripture.” Judith Kunst
I think He hopes we will be intrigued, ask questions, and pursue Him to the depths of all of who He is. Our questions will not knock Him off his throne. When I consider the breadth and scope of his work as Creator and how little of it any of us can fathom in a lifetime, I cannot help but think He delights in our discoveries for they consistently prove He is God and greater than our imagination can conceive.
I love how Dallas Willard writes about this:
“We should, to begin with, think that God leads a very interesting life, and that He is full of joy. Undoubtedly He is the most joyous being in the universe. The abundance of His love and generosity is inseparable from His infinite joy. All of the good and beautiful things from which we occasionally drink tiny droplets of soul-exhilarating joy, God continuously experiences in all their breadth and depth and richness.”
As you seek to grow in intimacy with the Lord in solitude, silence, and opening His Word, let Him stir up curiosity to explore and mine the hidden jewels He has left for us there.
“We are not used to contemplating an all-knowing God as one who is curious. But it is God who imagines freedom for us all, God whose faithful curiosity about the future of the world has set the text of the Bible eternally on fire.” Judith Kunst