At first glance, “Dying to Know” might convey that there is some new or cutting edge field of knowledge that I am pursuing to enable me to be more effective. But in fact the opposite is true.
God by His grace in recent months has opened my eyes and helped me come to terms with the fact that my sense of the “need to know” has become an entanglement that has actually prevented me from effectively fulfilling my calling and ministry.
I’ve found myself often in these last four months pondering that unquenchable thirst “to know” that was first seen in Adam and Eve. Here is a couple who lived in an absolutely perfect paradise – experiencing God’s presence daily, living in perfect harmony and oneness with each other, and yet sin produced in them the ability to ignore and downplay all of that, and risk everything for that one thing they haven’t yet known or experienced (with a little help of Satan of course).
For a number of years now, a variety of Christian leaders have been urging we pastors to become more involved in the political process and to be more outspoken on social, moral and political issues from the pulpit, which of course if you want to be listened to, requires that the given pastor has done his homework. Many of these leaders believe the ongoing slide of our nation into lawlessness, rebellion and immorality is at least partially because we pastors have failed to do this. There are also those that feel our effectiveness in our outreach to the lost also requires our being on top of such issues.
Then for those of us who have graduated from Seminaries or Bible Schools there is the very prevalent conviction that a pastor must be on top of theological issues, church growth principles, leadership issues, etc. And there are many hundreds of ministries and Christian organizations out there – (today especially via the internet) – trying to convince us that we need their help with these pursuits, all with the admirable and biblical goal in mind of “equipping the saints for the work of ministry” (see Eph. 4:11, 12) and completing the great commission.
So because of those voices in the back of my mind, and because of my involvement with fellow pastors in our region over these 24 years in Los Osos, and the sense that to interact with them I must be on top of all these things, I have increasingly become reliant upon my laptop, especially when you factor in all the hours of sermon and Bible study preparation a typical week required.
Over four months ago when my eyes began to open to how bad this reliance was, I had around 550 emails in my inbox. Many of those were from five different pro life organizations, all of whom I am very thankful for and wish I could help more. But I received emails from each of them at least weekly and usually daily. My daily email deluge from many other ministries was so significant that I never felt I could go on a vacation without my laptop or get through a whole day off (Fridays) without checking my email at least a couple of times.
I’m giving you this kind of detail so hopefully you can see how subtle the justification for such obsession for “knowledge” can be. My wife has had far better boundaries than I have all these years. But even she when we were watching our weekly movies back in the day (one of many entanglements the Holy Spirit has led us to give up), she would often get on her laptop and look up a given actress in the movie for the noble purpose of praying for them, which she often did (pray for them that is). But it led her to knowledge that she didn’t necessarily have to have.
One of the most wonderful things about our Savior is that He lives to save and sanctify and purify us, and produce His very life, heart and mind in us.
But to experience that, I’ve had to get in touch with and repent of the things in me that have led me down this road. Thankfully the Holy Spirit has used the scriptures and the voices of others to help me see this for what it is.
King Solomon, in his quest to find satisfaction and fulfillment, for a time pursued the depths of all available knowledge. His conclusion? “….. in much wisdom there is much grief, and increasing knowledge results in increasing pain.” Eccl. 1:18
A week or so after I wrote the first draft of this blog and the paragraph above, I read this passage from Thomas a Kempis in His classic, “The Imitation of Christ” re: the contrast between what “nature” or our flesh craves, and what Grace desires or seeks: “Nature hankers to know secrets and to hear the latest news, to be seen in public and enjoy all manner of new sense experiences, desires to be noticed by others and to whatever results in acclaim and admiration. Grace, on the other hand, cares little about hearing the news and has no interest in trivia, for it knows that all curiosity has its beginning in man’s original corruption and that there is nothing new or lasting on this earth. Grace teaches itself to curb the senses….” P. 164.
Some of you may be responding like I did initially, “But aren’t we commanded in Proverbs to acquire knowledge?” Doesn’t Proverbs say, “…it is not good for a person to be without knowledge?” Yes Proverbs 19:2 does say this. But elsewhere in Proverbs we are told “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge…” Proverbs 1:7 In other words, our pursuit of knowledge should come out of our obedience to and dependence upon the living God, of whom Proverbs 2:6 says, “From His mouth comes knowledge and understanding.” God has an infinite wealth of knowledge and is glad to share it with us or direct us towards it, but only when it helps us accomplish His will and when it pleases Him, and is directed by Him and is good for us (and our marriages).
Otherwise when we pursue knowledge out of our own sinful nature and impulses, it becomes that which “makes arrogant” as the apostle Paul warned of in I Corinthians 8:1.
One of the things I felt the Holy Spirit said to me early on in this journey was, “Whatever your head knows, your heart has to support.” In other words, your heart already is required to be in a passionate pursuit of Jesus and your wife. Those two priorities or pursuits require significant emotional and spiritual and mental energy. Every tidbit of knowledge and information you pursue outside of those pursuits will sap a certain amount of the spiritual resources required to keep your heart and mind centered and pure and focused. So you better be sure it is necessary (and your wife needs to agree).
So how did I handle all of this? Because this pursuit of knowledge in so many areas was so out of whack, I had to follow Jesus’s instructions and “cut off my hand” (clicking hand that is). My hours on the internet have been cut to a third of what it once was. (This is not to pat me on the back. It should have always been this way).
By the grace of God, and by the cleansing and healing blood of Jesus, I am no longer “dying to know”. For those of you who pray for me to be all that God has called me to be, I am deeply indebted to you. May the Lord give you grace to pursue only the knowledge He deems worthy of your pursuit and energy in these last days.