Curiosity killed the heart

On chapels, limbs and ‘tudes


Photo by Lehua Kamakawiwoole

Nick Vujicic, who was born without limbs, hugs a student after a chapel sermon on Friday, Oct. 26.

Friday’s chapel featured a “distinguished speaker.” (I normally miss Fridays due to work, but last week was vice versa since a raging nighttime fever gifted me with a runny nose and phlegm-filled chest.)

No one snoozed through this message! Nick Vujicic, 24, was born without limbs. Eyes were glued to the three-foot tall man on a table at the front of the gym:

• We watched him “walk” on footless stumps so short even boxers would drag.

• We laughed at “shaking hands” shoulder-to-fist with a student: up, down, forward, like old buddies.

• We gasped when he threw himself face-down on the table to illustrate a point.

• We cheered as he raised himself again, bracing his head against a big Bible.

Nick shared his testimony. He talked about overcoming fear and guilt and living for souls through suffering.

Good message!

But minutes before time, he abruptly hung a sentence. His mouth turned down, and his eyes narrowed. Wincing from pain, I thought. His next comment demolished my supposition.

“Nothing I’ve said has penetrated here this morning.”

You’ve got to be kidding, my mind countered. What’s he talking about?

“There’s a hardness here.”

The rest of Nick’s talk blurred. He said something about getting real. Mentioned that true seekers ask “not my will, but Thine be done.” I know all that. Don’t need to hear it again. My eyes roamed, noting students engaged by the speaker. Attentiveness everywhere. So what was Nick’s problem? We weren’t hard; we were curious!

We came to chapel curious to see this man. A novelty. We were curious to hear what he would say. A cliché.

Music signaled our exit. Absorbed in musings, coughing up mucous, and battling a sinus headache, I moved with the herd away from the gym. I broke from the pack going to class and headed toward Hope to sleep and try to recover. A snatch of overheard conversation did the trick:

“He was interesting to watch. I’ve heard it all before, though.”

Curiosity. That’s the problem! No wonder Nick was sad! I should be ashamed. Chapel is a curiosity. Sure, I’ve heard the messages before. I just wanna observe how people give them.

Back in my room, I realized that curiosity’s hardness was ingrained since childhood:

• The best part of Sunday School flannel graphs was crackle-faced widow Miss Payne’s warbly Texan accent, “Jeee-sussss fed fahve THOU-SAND pee-pole with theez loaves an’ fishes.”

• My favorite baptism was of a six-year-old girl so scared of drowning that she grabbed the pastor and immersed him instead!

• The best joke for youth who memorized Romans chapter eight was interpretive moaning through “the Spirit makes intercession for us with groanings.”

• The distinguishing factor of worship at church at age three was Connie Hooper’s hosen-shod feet sliding along the organ pedals, and — 20 years later — Pastor Abood’s bald head reflecting on stage while singing, “Shine the light and let the whole world see…”

It was the same thing with Torrey Conference; great speakers, good delivery. We listen, we discuss, we move on. I did it. Watched friends do it. Watched strangers do it.


How come we’re “with it” on Bible knowledge, but really knowing Jesus is overcome by curiosity about HOW others talk about Him?

I can’t play the blame game anymore. It’s not the ‘Biola Bubble’ that makes me complacent about my own Christianity – I should be enriched. It’s not studying the Bible for class that gives me indifference to my own quiet time – I should be fortified.

It’s not the chaplain, the café or the card scanners. Oy! It’s not even the mural of a hippie caucasian Jesus.

The answer seems too simple: stop being curious.

• Be desperate like the lady who touched Jesus’ hem and received virtue in her encounter with the Great Physician.

• Be ashamed like Zacchaeus who hid in a tree but ended up giving his ill-gained livelihood away and gaining salvation.

• Be broken like the adulterous woman who cowered until Jesus released her, saying, “Go and sin no more.”

• Be conscientious like Peter who (even though he spoke four times too often) kept following the “Follow Me” Jesus and ultimately became the Lord’s mouthpiece at Shavuot/Pentecost.

• Be demanding like Job who begged, “Oh that I knew where I might find Him!” and found God knew exactly where to find Job and how much he loved Him.

I’m asking God to do an experiment with Biola, with me. Please get me out of my curiosity — out of the audience — and into real life!

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