We’re house-sitting for some friends high up in the Altadena foothills. Their back yard is the National Forest.
I went out at midnight last night to take it all in before going to bed. I was focusing on a couple of very bright points of light, wondering if they were galaxies, stars or planets. I imagined myself space-traveling out there to find out. I was lost in my thoughts for a few minutes; then suddenly I realized I was not alone. Another star-gazer was loudly announcing his presence. It was a mockingbird trilling his non-stop message at full volume.
As a transport from the East Coast, this California avian phenomenon stills puzzles and amazes me. New Jersey birds have the good taste to go to sleep when the sun goes down. I still find a brash and bold mockingbird calling out at midnight oddly out of place, even offensive. I learned from youth camps and biology courses that bird calls have the function of announcing and protecting territory from would-be rivals. I heard no other challenging calls from other mockingbirds in the area — just this one, chattering on and on about something.
Then I thought of what that something might be. Maybe he’s out here for the same reason I am. Maybe he too is immensely curious about this world he finds himself in and is asking question after question, about the trees, the lights in the sky, the insects that taste so good, the air, the feathers that allow him to fly through it, the great-looking female he saw today (she seemed to be mocking him), where did this all come from? is there a God who put it all together? what is he up to?
Some believers think we shouldn’t be asking questions like this; we should just take everything by faith, not questioning how or why. I’ve never been able to be like that. My mother said she thought “Why?” was my first baby word.
We are involved in a sermon series entitled “Dynamic Christian Living in 2014.” This Sunday I’ll focus on Curiosity as an under-appreciated Christian virtue. God has given us new life in Christ, and this has changed everything, including the way we look at the world around us. Seventeenth century mathematician and astronomer Johannes Kepler, who was the first to describe accurately the orbits of the planets around the sun, defined science as “thinking God’s thoughts after him.” That’s the way I see science, and this opens wide and endless doors of knowledge and understanding to me. I feel sorry for those who think of science as an enemy of faith and are always suspicious of its findings. If God is ultimate truth, and science is the search for truth, then I will find God at the end of any scientific inquiry. . . the same God I find in my heart by faith.
This Sunday morning I hope to show this from some very profound Scriptures. We tend to minimize these awesome insights because they seem too big for our minds. On Sunday, I plan to stand behind the ABC pulpit and chatter like a noisy mockingbird about the wonderful gift of Curiosity God has given us.
–Pastor George Van Alstine