The reason why we do things matters, you know? I can tell the difference in my soul when I’m changing outfits because I feel insecure and when I’m changing outfits because the southern weather (once again) unexpectedly changed seasons without warning.
I can also tell the difference when I’m listening to a sermon or a podcast or reading my Bible because I am chasing after togetherness with God or when I’m listening/reading because I want to send the information off to someone else as quickly as possible, like spiritual hot potato.
It’s important to share what we learn, and it’s important to study in order to teach well. But of primary importance, always and forever, is togetherness with God and seeking knowledge of God simply for the sake of knowing him better, not for the sake of establishing ourselves as knowers in other people’s eyes. When we are too quick to share, too focused on teaching, too focused on how this might help someone instead of understanding what it teaches us about God, we are in dangerous waters. Intimacy is at stake. Wisdom is at stake. True learning and discovery are at stake. We always assume that God would have us “go and tell,” but we must not forget, that at least a few times in scripture, Jesus said, “Go and tell know one” (Matthew 8:4, Mark 7:36).
Sometimes it’s not just in our quickness to share answers but in our quickness to share our questions. My husband is a pastor and a seminary grad, so it’s easy to ask him questions rather than wrestle for the answers myself. I enjoy asking him and having these conversations together, but I’ve realized that in some instances, my intimacy with God and my fascination with scripture increase exponentially when I place the burden of discovery on myself rather than take the easy way of asking him. It’s a little unnatural for me to do things the hard way (PLEASE SPEAK WITH MY APPLE PEELER ABOUT HOW MUCH I LOVE THE EASY WAY), but when we walk with Jesus, the point is rarely the answer -- the point is the walking. And when we have lots of questions? We walk better in step with him, like a curious kid who follows his or her parent around all day. (Hi, Adelaide!)
Side note: I think this is the same reason that some of us can do Bible study after Bible study and never quite feel like we know the Bible better. The study methods and books we choose place the burden of discovery on the teacher/writer/study creator and not on the learner. I call this phenomenon Workbook Jesus, and it’s a big fat bummer because we feel compelled to focus more on filling in the blanks than chasing after a better understanding of God. IT IS SO HARD NOT TO CARE ABOUT THE BLANKS! Why do they have such power over us?
What were we talking about? YES, POTATOES.
For whatever reason, it’s just so very tempting to toss the hot potato to the next recipient via tweet or text or quick conversation rather than sit and hold it.
"MAYBE WE THINK THE TRUTH WILL BURN US IF WE HOLD ON TO IT, OR THAT IT'LL TAKE TOO MUCH ENERGY TO FULLY EVALUATE IT OURSELVES."
When it comes to spiritual things, tossing the potato is, well, easier. Or for some personality types, hoarding potatoes is easier: amassing knowledge but never brave enough to pass it along.
But I think we are supposed to hold potatoes and toss potatoes, wisely and mindfully, and also, I swear to you, THIS POST IS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE ABOUT POTATOES.
It’s supposed to be about this:
I want to share with you a practical way we can preserve the intimacy in our relationship with Jesus and guard the "why" behind our pursuit of knowledge of God: be mindful about what to savor and what to share.
Here’s what I mean:
Savor: One of my favorite parts of the gospel story is a strange detail about Mary the mother of Jesus: “But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). We are given precious insight into Mary’s quiet and beautiful response after God had revealed and done astonishing things: treasure and ponder them.
As I study and learn and fall more in love with Jesus, I have some questions I try to ask myself: What astonishment do I need to treasure and ponder? What truths do I need to wrestle with privately? What aspects of God’s character do I need to sink my teeth into? (Full disclosure: I am resisting a potato comment right here.) What spiritual tension do I need to step into rather than outsource? In short: What do I need to pray about/act upon/give/learn/ask/memorize/study/read without telling anyone?
Share: Remember how Jesus asked some people not to talk after he did something miraculous? They pretty much always did. He knocked their proverbial socks off (which I assume they were wearing with sandals since they are in the Bible), and they had to share! I don’t know if that made Jesus chuckle or feel disappointed, but I do know that on plenty of other occasions in scripture, we are asked to go and tell (Mark 16:15). We all need wisdom to discern what we should share, when we should share it, and with whom we should share it, and God will give that wisdom to us if we ask (James 1:5). One of my favorite verses is a joyful verse about telling: ”Come and hear, all you who hear, and I will tell what He has done for my soul" Psalm 66:16.
Here are some questions I try to ask myself: What truths/questions are for public consumption (Instagram, Facebook, blogs, articles)? For my community (small groups, group texts, Voxer messages, discipleship relationships)? For my village (spouse, trusted friends and family)? In short: What truths or questions should I faithfully and bravely entrust to someone else?
It’s my prayer that these two words, savor and share, might be tools for you to guard your "why," to walk more intimately with Jesus, savoring and sharing the things He entrusts to you. Also, POTATO. (Just felt like I hadn’t said that in a while.)