Still, there’s an element of truth to his comment. After all, the most brilliant mind in the world would be wasted without the prompt of a “what if…?” or “what about…?”
Now, most of us aren’t going to discover the cure for a terrible disease or create some sort of amazing new technology by following a trail of thought. But curiosity has been linked to happiness and cognitive healthy in old age.
Hollywood producer Brian Grazer credits his wonderings with fueling his successful career. In A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life, he tells of his years badgering experts in all sorts of fields outside of entertainment about which he knew little to nothing to let him meet with them and ask questions.
Curiosity is also essential to the spiritual life. We’re not going to grow much by sitting back and waiting for God to show up. The apostle Paul writes in Hebrews 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”
We see that so clearly in the life of Moses. There he was, sitting with his sheep out in the wilderness, minding his own business. Maybe he was thinking back on his days of privilege growing up in Pharaoh’s house, and how he had thrown that all away when his unchecked anger led him to kill an Egyptian mistreating one of the Israelite slaves.
All of a sudden, a nearby bush burst into flames, without being consumed. The story unfolds in Exodus 3:3-4: “And Moses said, ‘I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.’ When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’”
Note that God didn’t call from the bush first, saying, “Psst, Moses, over here.” He spoke to him only after Moses had already decided to go over and check out what was happening. Why? What would have happened if Moses had ignored the phenomenon? Maybe the Israelites would have had to wait longer for their deliverance to come from another candidate.
God knew that whoever led His people out of captivity in Egypt would have to be someone who was not stuck in his ways, someone open to the unexpected. Someone curious. I wonder how many smaller opportunities to be used by God are missed because we don’t follow the bread crumbs He is leaving for us?
I know in my professional life as a writer, curiosity is fuel. But personally, I find it waning as I get older. Maybe that’s because I’m getting older, when I think I should start to be knowing some stuff, while remaining curious emphasizes what I have yet to learn, rather than what I have learned. It requires the humility Jesus was looking for when He said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3).
Given that Moses was around eighty when he decided to go and see what was happening in that bush, I figure I should keep exercising my curiosity muscles.