I don’t know what it is about me, but I’m always gathering information. I’m always looking to find the next big thing to improve my life, to learn how to do things better. I currently have about ten books on my nightstand: one or two baby books, a book on parenting, an organization book, a theology book, my Kindle, and of course Real Simple Magazine, the true source of all great information on how to live life. I’m an information gatherer, a learner, and maybe (I’ve suspected recently) a bit of a self-help junkie.
I took a strengths test a while back (I actually highly recommend it! I think it’s only 20 bucks), and my top three strengths were Input, Ideation and Intellect. Here are the first lines from each description:
“People who are especially talented in the Input theme have a craving to know more. Often they like to collect and archive all kinds of information.”
“People who are especially talented in the Ideation theme are fascinated by ideas. They are able to find connections between seemingly disparate phenomena.”
“People who are especially talented in the Intellection theme are characterized by their intellectual activity. They are introspective and appreciate intellectual discussions.”
Obviously there is a theme here. And that’s great. It’s helpful as a writer, since writing is basically all about gathering information, distilling it, and distributing it to others. And it’s helpful for when I have a problem I want to solve, because I know how to gather information on just about any subject.
The other day, however, I was thinking about all of these information-gathering quests I’m on, and I started to wonder whether I’m using my time wisely in these pursuits. I tend to get caught up in the little things I can do to make my life better, believing that if I can just be good enough at everything, or know enough about everything, my life will improve.
Earlier this week I made a point to use naptime to read the Bible. Of course this was the day that Shook never actually went to sleep and started screaming “I wanna wake up!” after thirty minutes and head-butted me when I went into his room to get him to go to sleep, but I did get a good twenty minutes of study in before it all broke down. And I thought to myself gosh, if I could just channel all of my “learner” energy into my relationship with God, what would my return on that investment be?
All of my books promise big results, life changing even. If I can just get my baby to sleep through the night, teach my toddler to obey my every command, organize my spices alphabetically and only have thirteen items of clothing in my closet. Even if I could accomplish those things, which I can’t, where would I be? Would my life really be any better, would I really be any happier?
The Bible makes promises too. Throughout the Bible, God makes promises to his people, to those who follow Him and seek Him.
“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, declares the Lord…” (Jeremiah 29:12-14)
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:7-11)
“Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.” (Matthew 12:24-27)
This is just a small sampling of the promises God makes to us throughout his word. And the difference in these promises is that they won’t come up empty. Why do I seek after worldly promises, when these promises are so much better, and actually true? What if I threw away all of those books on my nightstand and replaced them with the Bible? I wonder what changes I would see in my life, and more importantly, in my heart.
Thankfully there’s grace, and God meets me every time I come to Him, no matter how long it has been, and no matter how many other things I have been chasing before seeking Him. But I know He wants me to seek Him first. I know He knows how much better off I will be if I start with that.
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:25-33)