“The world is so full of a number of things, I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.” This line, inviting us to a world of exploration, was penned by Robert Lewis Stevenson in A Child’s Garden of Verses, and my father often quoted it to me when I was young. He had an insatiable curiosity, and as I grew up, the stacks of books in our little house grew higher on every shelf and in every corner. If we wanted to know something, we got books and investigated or we found people who were knowledgeable in the subject. Besides the books, there were all types of crafts we were interested in at the moment—weaving and spinning and dying wool, wood and leather work, calligraphy, crochet, embroidery, and innumerable kits.
After bringing home a few handfuls of shells from my first trip to the coast, I was curious to know their names and to sort them by shape. Soon we were writing shell dealers all over the world and buying specimens from every ocean. We joined a shell club that met once a month to identify, trade, and share our collections. It was an enriching experience for a young person, and I saw how much I could learn just from listening to and interacting with others who had more experience than I did.
The joy of learning has been key to my life’s adventure. I try to remember Bill Nye’s admonition to be willing to start up conversations with strangers: “Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.”
I was recently talking with a friend who was just diagnosed with breast cancer. She’s undergoing medical examinations before beginning a long series of chemotherapies. She told me about all the people she’s meeting in the waiting rooms of the medical centers and the opportunities she has had to give a bit of comfort and plant seeds of faith. Though she is sobered by the seriousness of her situation, she seemed ready to learn from the whole process and looked forward to being able to “comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”1 I admire her faith and courage, and I hope I can learn along with her.
Jesus was often called Rabbi, meaning teacher, and He promised that the Holy Spirit would teach us as well.2 He gives us wisdom and insight into every experience and situation, from the seemingly insignificant to the transcendental. The true joy of learning is to sit at His feet and learn from Him.3
1. 2 Corinthians 1:4 NIV
2. See John 14:26; 16:13.
3. See Luke 10:38–42.