The seed sprouts and grows—he has no idea how it happens. The earth does it all without his help: first a green stem of grass, then a bud, then the ripened grain.
–Mark 4:26-29 (MSG)
“Do you want to know what your besetting sin is?” My long-term mentor asked this as he walked into the kitchen where I was stirring lunch. Hearing the question, my stomach tightened, body braced, and I had a strong urge to get overly engrossed stirring the soup. Lifting my eyes to his I found him patiently waiting for my answer. No censure. No hurry. Just a kind of waiting to see what I would and could receive just then. “Yes.” I nodded my head as I said the word and held my breath.
“You don’t let yourself be curious.”
The words sort of hung there. Out of everything he could have said, I never expected that. He waited for a minute to see if I had anything to say, but truthfully, I had no idea where to go with it. No questions formed. No thoughts. No direction. I felt more like a balloon with air coming out. My response kind of proved his statement. There wasn’t a problem to solve. No steps to take. Nothing to move into action. Just a door opening, and I wasn’t sure how to walk through it.
In the years since, I’ve been learning that curiosity is more of a path than an endpoint. When encountering the stuff of life, it doesn’t go straight to the heart of the matter to solve it. Rather, curiosity looks into it, around it, to see what a person (or thing) is…letting the mystery of it invite us all to more. It doesn’t assume it knows what a moment might hold, or who a person might be, or even what God might be up to at any given time. But it looks deeply and waits patiently, led forward by what unfolds and invites.
Considering this, I realized how limited my questions were. Designed to get to the bottom of things, they missed humanity in much of its irritating, quirky beauty. Thinking further, it seemed to me I was so busy trying to solve God and people, that I didn’t have room to simply enjoy either one. And that’s why my lack of curiosity was such a problem. “The chief end of man is to glorify God” [to see and show God as he really is] and enjoy him forever.” (Westminster Catechism). How can I enjoy God if I’m trying to solve him? How can I enjoy people if I’m trying to fix them?
How about you? How would you describe curiosity in your life? Do you follow him without ever looking to see what larger things he might be about? Do you intersect with people to help them or enjoy them?
Can you imagine what Christianity would be like if we were a more curious people?