Meditations in Meaning & Values 17: Inquisitiveness
Ex 3:1-3 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 desert 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.”
I our search for meaning and purpose, questions arise such as “Who are we, why are we like this?” The human race is a mystery to many, denigrated and lowered to the level of mere animals by some and elevated to gods by others. Both are wrong. David asked God in one of his psalms, “what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.” (Psa 8:4,5) Why do you care for man, he asked, for we are lower than the angelic beings and yet you make us carriers of your glory? That was revelation! We may be less than angels but we are greater than animals and we carry the glory of God because we are made in His likeness (Gen 1:26,27). Now animals can be inquisitive but not to the measure or extent that we find in human beings, There, I have given away where we are going!
As I was praying this morning without a clue where to go next, this picture of Moses arose in my mind. As with so much in the Bible I suspect we take for granted what happened in the first three verses of Ex 3 because in a sense it is so normal. Something odd happens so Moses goes to have a look. Have you ever been on the motorway or freeway when there’s been an accident on the other side and your side slows right down? Why does your side slow down? It is because everyone wants to have a look. Or there is a fire nearby and everyone rushes out to see it. Wherever there some such similar incident, there will always be a crowd. Why? Because we are inquisitive, we want to see, we want to know.
What is it that drives great research on? There may be money factors in say the motor industry designing new hi-tec cars, and there may be the desire to beat a disease in medical laboratories, but deep down there is this something that wants to see where we can go with this, to see what is possible. It took a James Dyson to pull the rug out from Hoover who had for so many years dominated the carpet cleaning industry, Dyson who thought differently and came up with a machine that is now copied by so many others. Animals don’t ‘think outside the box’, they don’t invent, create, design, compose. All of these things, that we have noted before which are expressions of being made in the image of God, come from the human mind wanting to push out the boundaries, go somewhere different, do something differently. How we take this for granted.
But this doesn’t happen to just great inventors or composers. Next time you are sitting in your living room envisaging changing the décor or knocking down a wall to, as the Americans say, remodel your home, you are doing this same thing. Next time you are sitting in your garden (or back yard as again my American friends say) and you find yourself imagining a pergola or a greenhouse or a climber trailing up over a wall, or a new vegetable plot, you’re doing this same thing again. You are acting as one made in the image of God, ruling over the world He gave you (Gen 1:28).
But the same thing is there in the spiritual sphere. I think the classic example is that of young Jonathan, son of King Saul. They have constant trouble with the Philistines and there is a Philistine outpost looking out over the valley where Jonathan happens to be with his armour bearer, and so Jonathan looks up and wonders. He turns to his armour bearer and expresses his wondering, “Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised fellows. Perhaps the LORD will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the LORD from saving, whether by many or by few.” (1 Sam 14:6) i.e. let’s go and confront the enemy and see what God might do. I like it!
Before I retired from full-time church leadership, I used to let it be known in the church if that anyone had any new idea they wanted to try, we’d back them. If it flourished it was God; if it died within three months it was just a good idea, but nothing lost. Why did I do that? Because the people of God are the body of Christ and God can speak to any of us and inspire new works in whoever might have an open heart. Sadly many of us settle and we miss so much of what could be. The Holy Spirit is part of a creative Trinity and God is a Creator and we are made in His image.
The thing about creators – take artists for example – they are never satisfied with just one thing, they are constantly looking to do something new. When God does something ‘new’ it is simply the next phase in His long-held plan to bless the world. Through Isaiah the Lord said, “See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you.” (Isa 42:9) i.e. if you stick with me I’ll show you through my prophets the next things I am rolling out in my big plan! Later He was to say, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland,” (Isa 43:19) as He revealed His next phase in bringing life to spiritually dry and thirsty land.
You see the trouble is that so often we let the failures put us off. I tried but it didn’t work, or I shared Jesus but they didn’t want to know, and so we give up and we lay down that inquisitiveness that wants to push on and take new ground and we allow Satan to make us passive and deny that aspect of our God-image. I had a friend with a good saying: “Win some, lose some!” Things change by people who are not afraid of failure. Let that inquisitiveness push you on.
Do you ever find yourself saying, “Lord what are you doing today? Is there something you have for me to join in?” Remember Jesus said, “My Father is always at his work,” (Jn 5:17a) and so “and I, too, am working.” (Jn 5:17b) Isn’t that amazing! God is ALWAYS doing something, He is constantly on the go, constantly pushing on with Hs long-term plans.
So dare to dream, dare to pray, something new. Who knows that you might find, and may this particular ‘burning bush’ turn you from the normal hum-drum to the exciting life of new things that God wants for us and has designed us to handle.