Seeking Knowledge

Children have control over so little in their lives.
We grownups like to think that we have control over our lives, but perhaps that is only illusion.
Daddies and Mommies tell them when to get up and when to lie down, when to eat and when to play, what to wear and where to go.  Children will often grasp at anything that will give them more power over their lives.
One of the things I’ve noticed that children use to gain a little control is knowing what name to call things, especially when that thing frightens them a little.  When she was smaller, my eldest daughter’s constant response to a loud noise was That was? That was?  Now that she is a little older, she asks What was that? That noise?  Knowing the name of something gives her power over it, makes it seem a little less scary.
She seeks to know.
Perhaps she is not very different from many adults.
Scientists, medical researchers, geneticists, stay-at-home moms who like to learn…people want to know what name to call things, want to know about things, because that gives them power over those things, those ideas.  If we know how something was put together or how something works or even just what to call it, we feel as though we have power over our world.
We seek to know.
A long time ago, in a land far away, around the beginning of the Christian Church (perhaps even earlier), there lived a group of people we call Gnostics who believed (among other things) that matter, the material universe, was bad and that deliverance from our material form could only come through special knowledge.
Not long ago at all, in a land not at all far away, there lived a group of people who believed that their minds were all-powerful, that the dying of their flesh was bad, that through knowledge they could overcome all physical limitations.  They could eat poorly and take vitamin supplements.  They could ignore their children and send them to therapists.  They could extend life and choose the sort of life that they procreated through the technology they created.  They believed that saving our natural resources wasn’t important because their minds, human ingenuity in the form of science and technology, could surely take care of that problem as well.
There is nothing new under the sun…
In C.S. Lewis’ Abolition of Man (in 1943!), he said that mankind’s power to do exactly what it wants seems to be growing all the time through humanity’s so-called “con­quest of Nature” – the progress of applied science.  However, “each new power won by man is a power over man as well.”  We can throw bombs from airplanes but can also be bombed ourselves; a race of birth-controllers is a race whose own birth has been controlled.
We seek to know.  We seek to control.
Why do we feel that Nature is bad, that the material world needs to be conquered?  Even as Christ-followers we seek knowledge because we fear.  We want to know and to name so that we can control that which is uncontrollable.
Is the pursuit of knowledge wrong?  Not at all.
Paul says in Philippians:
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. ~Philippians 1.9-11 (Italics mine)
Paul seeks to know.
Paul also said this:
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength. ~Philippians 4.12-13
Paul is definitely not in control, nor does he seek to be.
Is this a Faustian-like power, this power of knowledge?  A power that gives away everything good that God created in order to gain power and control over His creation?
It can be.
As Christ-followers, do we seek knowledge because we are fearful of the future and wish to wrest control of His creation from the One Who set it all in motion?
Sometimes I do.
Perhaps instead we can seek knowledge in order to praise God with our minds.  Perhaps we can seek knowledge in gratitude for our imagination and intelligence, in gratitude for the complexity of His creation.
I suppose that, as with most that God has created, the goodness or evil of the pursuit of knowledge depends upon the heart of His creation.
May our hearts and minds seek to know out of thanksgiving rather than out of fear.

*etching is “Faust” by Rembrandt

*edited from the archives

Joy Wrapped with Sorrow

My littlest turned one this week.
She is a New Year’s baby, the first of the year in our county.  In my own opinion, it would be difficult to find a better way to bring joy and hope to a new year than with a perfect baby.
She passed her Papa on her way to us.
My dear friend, Martha Cook, said it well:  And so your Papa stood at Heaven’s Gate.  He saw as she passed by.  He blew a kiss.  “Samantha,” he said, “God is sending you to the best of families.”  Then he turned and entered into the arms of the God he served.  Well done.  Well done.
It is a truth of this world that joy is wrapped up with sorrow.  You cannot have one without the other.
It is the way of this world and it is the way of our God.  He loves us, knowing that the joy of His love will be enveloped in sorrow.  He loves us while He bears our grief and our sorrow.
Weeping in Gethsemane
If God Himself bears both joy and sorrow, how can we expect anything different?
Yet we do.  We expect joy without sorrow, love without grief.  When the grief and sorrow come, we shake our fists at this God and ask why?
And we should ask why, but a why of a different kind.  Why, God?  Why would You choose to love us when we continually turn our faces from You?  Why would You choose to take our grief and sorrow upon Yourself?  Why did You come to our rescue instead of leaving us to the fate we brought on ourselves?
On the Cross
We will not, in this life, have joy without sorrow.  We can either try to live this life with God or without Him.  With Him, the joys are brighter and the sorrows are lighter.
Walking with Christ
So breathe in and breathe out.
We receive what You give; We give thanks for what You give.
Our Living Water
Above all, we give thanks for You.

Art credits: Gethsemane by Carl Bloch; Three Crosses by Rembrandt; Going to Emmaus by Robert Zund; Christ and Samaritan Woman by Henryk Siemiradzki

The Risk of Glorifying God

“You are a carrier for hemophilia.”

At first, I am relieved. With so much bruising, I had feared something worse.

When I take time to think through all of the ramifications of those words, however, my imagination begins to whirl, hurling rapid-fire images of the worst: whoosh an infant having to have daily injections; whoosh a high school boy learning how to give those injections to himself; whoosh a little boy sitting in the window, wishing that he could join his buddies playing football but having to be careful to avoid internal bleeding if bumped too hard.

In the days that follow, my husband and I agonize, thinking through all possibilities. Do we end our dream of a large family and be content with our two girls? Do we take the risk of having more biological children?

Then I see it.

I have been reading through Philippians regularly, so have read it many times, but this time it pierces my heart like a sword.

“The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 4.5-7

Like lightening bolts, certain phrases light up my soul: Do not be anxious. With thanksgiving. The peace of God will guard your heart and mind.


Peace. A peace that guards my heart and mind. IF I give thanks.

For anything? Even for the worst?

I ask God to help me truly think this through.

What is the goal for my family? An easy question. To honor and glorify God.

Would having a child with hemophilia glorify and honor God more than keeping our family as it is now? A tougher question.

Having a child with hemophilia: the way in which we, as a family, handle such an outcome could hugely honor and glorify God. If we can show the world our trust in God and our gratitude to Him in difficult circumstances, if we can show God’s love to the world by the way that we love each other, we will certainly be glorifying God’s name to everyone with whom we come into contact.

Is it possible? Could it be that God is asking us to continue with our dream of a large family even in the face of huge risk?

Yet my heart still rebels. What about the potential child himself? Is this really our choice to make? Is it right for us to make a choice for someone else that could potentially cause his suffering?

And yet…isn’t that what God call us to do as parents? Doesn’t He ask us to make God-honoring choices for our children until they are old enough to choose Him for themselves? Does this apply any less to unborn children than to the children who are already here? After all, God knows them even before they enter my womb.

And who knows? Perhaps this still unconceived child could one day be the one to find the cure for hemophilia. Perhaps this child could one day help hundreds of other suffering hemophiliacs to find rest in the arms of God.

Perhaps I should just rest my weary mind and heart and trust that whatever happens, even if it is what I think is worst, it is really best because God is always good and God is always love, and God is always working to transform the ugly things into beautiful things that bring honor and glory to Himself.

A Psalm of Love

Holy. Beautiful. Glory.

Creator. Author. Majesty.

King and Lord. Humility and Servant.


Wise beyond my wisdom.

Knowing beyond my knowledge.

Perfect plan beyond what I can comprehend.


Giver of all that I grasp too tightly.

Sacrificer of all, that I may see Your face.

Abundant mercy and grace, I rest in your delight in me.


For all that comes before,

When I cannot understand,

Still I will cling to Your power, Your goodness and

Your Love.