Information Overload or Knowledge?
T. S. Eliot posed a very thought-provoking question I would like for us to consider this morning: "Where is all the knowledge we lost with information?" It seems like we get more and more information, so much so that we could honestly declare we are on 'information overload', but where is the true 'knowledge' that was supposed to come with that information? Eliot's full quote is: "Where is the Life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?" Information overload is the difficulty we each have making a decision about how to proceed when we have too much information. We can demand more information, but it won't make the subject any clearer to us. Sometimes we have just enough information to make a wise decision, but that wisdom seems to fly out the window the more information we receive on a matter!
If any of you needs wisdom, you should ask God for it. He will give it to you. God gives freely to everyone and doesn’t find fault. But when you ask, you must believe. You must not doubt. That’s because a person who doubts is like a wave of the sea. The wind blows and tosses them around. They shouldn’t expect to receive anything from the Lord. This kind of person can’t make up their mind. They can never decide what to do. (James 1:5-8)
It isn't more information we need - it is the ability to sort out the chaff from the wheat when it comes to the parts we are to retain and those we should just let go. We need wisdom to act upon the right information and to avoid the pitfalls of seeking more information once we have acted upon it. We 'act' because we have some form of 'confirmation' within our minds and hearts that allows us or encourages us to actually take that action. To second-guess our action by seeking more information after we have acted isn't going to help us - it will just confuse us. Information comes to us in different forms, but when we ask God to bring clarity to the information we have, then trust him to turn it into actionable knowledge, we are taking one step closer to wisdom.
Actions must be 'solid' - in other words, they must be taken with an assurance. If you have ever taken an action that you were 'reasonably sure' was the right one to take, but not been totally convinced it was when you took it, you know how scary that can be. It is like stepping out on a limb and hoping it holds up under your weight. God gives 'solid' knowledge - he isn't going to give us wishy-washy information that we have to sort through and find the right solution. He is going to give us enough information to make a decision and then we must trust him with the decision we have made. Whenever we take action upon the information God reveals, we are on solid footing. When we insist on more information, we are sometimes opening ourselves up to delaying the obedience God desires.
We all need wisdom - we all need to sort through the information we receive from every direction in life. I need to sort through the mail to find the things I need to pay attention to and those I can quickly discard into the rubbish bin. These days the rubbish bin is fuller than the 'inbox' on my desk! The information that comes to my mailbox isn't all that important. Just because it is in front of me doesn't mean I need to contemplate it. I am free to discard information as quickly as I receive it. I must ask God to give me wisdom about what to keep and what to allow to fall away. We all encounter information in proportions that will eventually 'clutter' our lives if we don't sort through it with the help of the Holy Spirit in our lives. When we rely upon his help to 'declutter' that information, we are less likely to be on overload! Just sayin!