Need to Know

I saw a UFO tonight.

Well, perhaps I should qualify that statement before going any further.  I wouldn’t want you to think I was some wild-eyed conspiracy nut, believing the government is hiding the truth about those strange lights in the night sky, or possibly, even in cahoots with some alien society from the far reaches of outer space.

Still, there were strange lights in the night sky.  The dogs had warned me about them.  I should have paid attention.  I didn’t, simply suggesting to them I might consider that they were bad dogs if they continued their barking.

They went to bed.

I’m still awake.  I wonder.

I said it was a UFO, didn’t I?  It was, indeed, an unidentified flying object.  To me, it was.  That said, someone somewhere knows what it is.

I suppose, given the proximity of our home to the local university, it could have been a drone from their photography department taking night shots of the local community.  If so, they’ve got a shot of me standing in an empty field in the sub-freezing temperatures, staring up at the lights in the sky.

Oh, look!  There’s that Phillips nut.  You can really tell he’s outstanding in his field, can’t you?

Honestly, I don’t know what the lights were.  I stood and watched them until the cold drove me back inside.

I would like to know what that thing was, though.  I suppose I’ll probably never discover that.

I bet tonight’s the only night I’ll lose any sleep over it.


I went to the public library with the Lovely Lady the other day.  We split up as soon as we entered the front door, each having a pretty good idea of where we’d find the books which would entertain or educate us.

As I stood contemplating a novel or two (entertainment, not education), she came walking past, showing me the important find she had made.

I laughed.  It was a bird identification book.

You see, the Lovely Lady has her own version of the UFO.  I suppose it was over a year ago when she had her first sighting.

No.  That’s not right.

It wasn’t a sighting; it was her first hearing of that bird’s song.  She has described it to me several times in great detail, the onomatopoeic repetition being almost as enjoyable as actually hearing the bird myself.

She wants the unidentified winged creature to stand up and be recognized.  Absent the willing participation of said feathered creature, she is hoping for aid from other humans in giving a name and image to the sound she has heard numerous times.  In recent days, she has enlisted the assistance of my sister in the bird-hunt.

I am not participating.

Some things I just don’t need to know.

Some things I just don't need to know. Click To Tweet

I am happy that the bird sings.  I wish it good health and long life, with many descendants.

I don’t need to know what it looks like, nor where it makes its nest.  Just as I won’t be searching diligently to find the source of the lights in the sky earlier tonight, I am content to leave our fine feathered friend alone to sing his song.


Why is it we need to delve into the details of so many things?

Why?  How?  When?

Why are we not content simply to know that they are?

We’re not just talking about UFOs and unfamiliar birds here, are we?

There are days, and sometimes weeks, and yes, even years when we walk without answers—in the dark, if you will—not knowing how or when we will ever see the light of day again, but somehow believing that we will see it.

I claim to walk by faith, but I put the lie to my claim if I demand the evidence before I’ll take another step.

Faith is all the evidence we need of things we cannot see with our own eyes. (Hebrews 11:1)

How about it?  Have you crossed the shaky bridge to the unfamiliar terrain on the other side and recoiled at what you found there?  Do you need more information before you determine it’s safe to move on ahead?

Why do we hazard the bridge in the first place?  Do we suppose the One who told us to take that first step is surprised at what we found when we took the tenth step?  Or the fiftieth step?

Here is what I know.

When I hear a bird singing in the tree, I don’t need to see it to know it’s real.  I don’t need to know what family it is descended from to believe it is near or that its Creator will care for it.

I don't need to know. I need to trust. And walk. Click To Tweet

I don’t need to know.  I just need to trust.

And walk. 

And walking, I remember that my Father cares for me more than He does for that elusive bird in the bush. 

He told me that—the One I’m following.  (Luke 12:7)

And, that’s all I need to know.

For now.


I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.
(from The Republic ~ Plato)


Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
    How unsearchable his judgments,
    and his paths beyond tracing out!
(Romans 11:33 ~ NIV ~ Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.




© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2018. All Rights Reserved.

When the Music Stops

 I can’t see you.

I was out on a run this evening when her message arrived.  Having nearly runner-728219_640completed the first mile of a gentle three-mile run, I was feeling pretty good.

The music in my headphones suddenly stopped and the harsh clang of the message indicator hammered my eardrums.  I glanced down at my phone, held tightly in the plastic-and-velcro carrier on my arm.  The Lovely Lady had words for me.

I stopped.  When she talks, I listen.  Well, most of the time, I listen.  Sometimes, I just appear to be listening.  Perhaps, we’ll leave that subject for another day.

She couldn’t see my progress along the route on which I was running.  The fitness program I use not only tells me how far and fast I’ve run, it sends a GPS signal to other interested parties, showing where I am.

She’s interested.  I’m only half-teasing when I say she needs to know where to send the ambulance.

But tonight, she couldn’t see me.

I  made a change or two to the phone while standing alongside the road, sending a message back right before trotting on my way.

“Can you see me now?”

It took a few moments for her negative reply to arrive, but I was already back to full speed, and didn’t want to stop again.  I sent a curt, almost insensitive message.

“I’m just going to keep running.  Sorry.”

The problem is fixed now, so there shouldn’t be a repeat of her trepidation the next time I head out to feed the fitness bug.  

She needs to see me.

I know the feeling.

There are days, a lot like today—no, just like today—when I stop in the midst of all the commotion and overpowering sense of futility, and say the words.  Sometimes, I say them right out loud—sometimes I shout them in the vacuum of my spirit.

Where are you, God?  In all of this—this pointless exertion—are You here?

I can’t see Him.

On top of the commotion, a longtime friend’s mother was laid to rest today; and a young lady, whose acquaintance I made a few years back when she attended the local university, sent news that her father passed away early this morning. Another friend is grieving the loss of her granddaughter, only a year old.

I can’t speak for them.  I simply know it is at times like these when I want most to know that God is near.  And it is, for some strange reason, at times like these when I can’t see Him.

I can’t see Him.

And the music, which is the joy of life, has stopped.  Either that, or I just can’t hear the sweet melodies and harmonies in my ears like I could before.  Regardless, the silence is unbearable.

Blind and deaf, I stand—wondering if I’ll ever see Him again—uncertain if the sweet music will ever begin again.

It’s funny.  If you stand in darkness and silence for awhile, the senses are sharpened.  

Even now, I can almost hear the whisper—if I try.

I will never leave you or forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6)

I won’t leave you as orphans.  The world won’t see me, but you will. (John 14:18-19)

Even when you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, nothing evil will touch you. (Psalm 23:4)

The longer we listen to the whisper of His voice, the easier it is to hear.  In the quiet, He speaks to our spirits.  

We only have to listen.

Still.  I want to see Him.

I’m remembering today that we’re not home yet.  Here, we see dimly.  

There?  Face to face.  Clearly.

On that day, with our loved ones (if they were His followers), we’ll see Him.

What a glorious thought!

We’ll see Him.

That’s funny.  I think I can hear music again, too.  You know, there’ll be music in that place, as well.  The thought brings joy.

I want to see Him.  He does give glimpses here at times.  Enough to give us courage.  And strength.

So, I’ll keep walking.

You too?

We could walk together.

I’d like that.



So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.  So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.
(2 Corinthians 5:6-9 ~ ESV)



Open our eyes Lord
We want to see Jesus,
To reach out and touch Him
And say that we love Him.
(from Open Our Eyes, Lord ~ Robert Cull ~ American pastor/songwriter) 




© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2016. All Rights Reserved.

Picking My Brain

“Say! You’re a great teacher! Thanks for helping me understand all that!”

I had never seen the slender young man before, but we had spent the last hour in my music store discussing a myriad of subjects. Banjos, violins, vintage guitars–you name it, if there was one of them in the store, we talked about it.

The twenty-something fellow was like a sponge, soaking up every bit of information I laid out for him. After we had talked about the construction of the century-old violin he brought in for an appraisal, we also discussed its accessories and value. By the time I had exhausted my knowledge of the violin family, he was profuse in his praise.

“How can you know so much about this?”

A little embarrassed, I gently brushed aside the compliment, and he wandered through the store for awhile, stopping to admire a vintage acoustic guitar on display. Before we finished our conversation about that subject, we had widened the field of the discussion to include several other old instruments hanging in the place. Again, he was amazed.

brainpicking“Really! I’ve never had anyone who could tell me so much about musical instruments.”

He continued to pump me about the various instruments, asking questions that made me reach back into my memory of the basics and methodology of each one. I must have passed his test, because at the end of the hour, he concluded his comments with the above statement about teaching.

I’m laughing.

I tried teaching one time. 

Tried. Failed


I didn’t have the patience. Seriously, when I told a student something a single time at a lesson, I expected them to retain that information as long as they were studying the subject. Why else would I have told them?

I taught you this last week! Why do I need to tell you again?

Now you’re laughing. I’m not a teacher. The nice young man is wrong.

May I tell you what I do know?

What I do know is that not one idea in my brain belongs to me. Not one.

What I do know is that there is no knowledge which I retain about any subject that I acquired without the assistance of someone else. None.

Everything I have has been given me. Everything. Some may wish to argue the point, but I contend that none of us has acquired anything of ourselves. Oh, I don’t mean that we haven’t worked to attain it, but we cannot even claim the credit for the strength to do that work, much less the intellect to understand the subject in which we claim expertise.

Captain of my own ship? What a fraud! 

Many who have affirmed that status find, to their chagrin, that it is a complete falsehood. Physical strength may be gone in a moment’s time. So too, the intellect is as likely to be snatched away as it is to remain at our beck and call throughout our lives.

I must share my meager store of information because it was never mine to hoard. It was never mine to dole out. It has never been mine to sell to the highest bidder.

I may not be able to teach skillfully, but I can talk endlessly. That will come as no surprise to those who know me well, nor to quite a few folks who know me hardly at all, but nonetheless have endured my oral ramblings at length.

The Lovely Lady and I sneaked out to eat at a fast food restaurant tonight. The girl at the cash register called out the total for our meals and then added a phrase I’ve never heard before. I don’t even think it’s a real thing.

“With your Wise Person Discount, your total will be eleven dollars and seventy-nine cents.”

Huh?  Wise Person Discount?  Are you kidding me?  Just because I’m getting old?

I took the discount. I’m grateful for the compliment. 

Still, I’m not sure she really understands the concept of wisdom. Wrinkles and gray hair aren’t equivalent to wisdom. Some of the most foolish folks I know are much older than I. That said, it is to be hoped that the passage of years has brought with it a tiny bit, perhaps just an iota, of wisdom. But that too will be a gift, unearned, unmerited.

I still believe that every good thing comes from the Giver of all good gifts.

Freely we have received; freely we must give.

It’s not much, but I’m going to keep dispensing the knowledge contained in my head. Perhaps a bit of wisdom will be thrown in here and there.

Hey. It’s possible.

Come see me and pick my brain. We’ll see.





“True wisdom exists in knowing that you know nothing.”
(Socrates ~ Classical Greek philosopher ~ ca. 469 BC-399 BC)


“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
(James 1:5 ~ NIV)



© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2015. All Rights Reserved.