Recently, I had the unique privilege of observing a room of 6 and 7 year olds give class presentations. One little boy gave his presentation on his favorite Star Wars toy. He pulled his BB-8 figurine out of his back pack and held it aloft as he spoke to the class. As soon as his presentation ended, numerous little arms shot into the air to ask him questions about his toy.
“Does it talk?”
“No,” he replied.
“Does it do anything cool?”
In answer, he took it to the table and demonstrated how BB-8 could spin around like a top. Eight little bodies sat watching in rapt attention.
“Is it heavy?” one of his classmates asked.
“No, not really,” he nonchalantly answered, “Do you want to feel it?”
BB-8 subsequently made the rounds through little hands testing his weightiness.
Can you imagine how different seminars and board room meetings would be if adults were allowed to behave this way during presentations? “Can I touch it?” “Can I hold it?” “Does it talk?”
Children experience the world through their senses and are primarily led by curiosity. Then, sometime after childhood’s wide-eyed wonder, we become boring adults full of to-do lists and skepticism. Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, “It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.”
Perhaps this is why Jesus warns:
Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. Luke 18:12 NIV
How might a child receive the kingdom of God? They receive it with fascination and awe, ready to embrace and accept it without the cynicism and uncertainty with which adults often struggle.
Curiosity and wonder are God-given gifts, to explore and enjoy his creation. He delights in our creativity and discoveries. We are, after all, made in His image, and He is the Creator. As Creator, He gave us His entire creation to explore and investigate. The discoveries seem never-ending. No matter what field of study, there are always new discoveries and “breakthroughs”: in Genetics, in Neuroscience, in Astronomy, in Paleontology, and in Technology, and those are just a few in the fields of math and science. Musicians learn their craft through curiosity, pushing their instruments to new sounds, new movements, and new pieces. Teachers are at the front lines of curiosity, igniting the love of learning for new generations. No matter what field of study excites you, chances are curiosity led you there.
As healthy as curiosity is, it can also have a negative side. For instance, click bait on the Internet thrives on our curiosity and the desire to know. Curiosity drives us to rubber neck at the scene of an accident. Addictions often begin with simple curiosity.
What if we could recapture our sense of innocent curiosity and wonder once again? What if we could see the universe through the eyes of a child, wanting to unabashedly discover the world? The Psalmist felt some of this wonder himself as he wrote:
The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy. Psalm 65:8 NIV
The wonders of God never end. We cannot reach the end of discovery. Like a favorite book that you never want to finish, each page turn leads to a new discovery.
Once, at a conference, I heard John Piper speak about heaven. He likened knowing God face to face and spending eternity with Him to climbing a mountain range. You reach the top of one mountain having thought you’d seen it all, only to discover there are endless mountain ranges in front of you left to discover. His facets and depths are unfathomable. He is too great for us to wrap our minds around.
Pause: Take a deep breath and close your eyes. Think of the last time you stood in awe of God’s creation. Picture that scene in your mind.
Renew: Like the children in the classroom, we experience the world through our senses. Think about how you primarily experience the world: is it visually, audibly, or kinesthetically? How can you encourage your own or your children’s sense of awe and wonder?
Next: Give yourself permission this week to be curious. Get out and experience creation. Explore with wonder like a child.
May your curiosity lead you to new discoveries, and may you be filled with awe like a child.
Pause, Renew, Next!