Lots of “Q”s and one “A”

James 1-5

I wrote this in my journal in late January. We’d been quietly praying about direction for months, and this verse came up as the verse of the day on Bible Gateway. I wrote it in my journal and then took a pic of it so I would have it on my phone as well.

With our upcoming move into the city of Chicago, we’re facing lots of questions.

Where will the kids go to school? Don’t know.

Where will we go to church? Ditto.

What ministries will we be able to plug into as a family? Another unknown.

Where will we live? Still in process on that one, too!

But the biggest one of all for me is not one of the “W” questions, but the “H” one. How? How, in all these different, new places and contexts, do we learn how to live out our faith? How do we approach others with sensitivity and get to know them well? How do we make authentic friendships in which Jesus is evident? How do we become good neighbors and trusted members of a neighborhood?

Each time I’ve opened my daily prayer app this spring, I get the answer.

flashback of venture corps

The picture above was taken in spring 2008 in Uganda. See the little guy on the right side? That’s our Patrick. He was being cared for by all the other people in this picture while we, in the States, were in the process of adopting him. That was also a time filled with questions! In the picture below, taken just outside our house in West Chicago, Patrick is front and center, and his brother Jake is kneeling on his right. Four of the other people in the picture above are also in this pic–joined by two of Jody and Aaron’s children.

It is the season of Pentecost in the church calendar, and the opening sentence for this time is Acts 1:8. “You shall receive power when the Holy Ghost has come upon you; and you shall be my witness in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

I am reminded: the disciples in “real” Pentecost time experienced some of the same feelings we are experiencing. After three years of following Jesus around, of always knowing who their leader was, of seeing his example of love and faith and care, they lost him to the skies.

They returned to their upper room and huddled together, unsure of where to go, what to do, and how to do any of it.

Yep, same questions.

But the beginning of Acts, written later in retrospect, begins with some of Jesus’ last words to his disciples. “You’ll get the Holy Spirit,” he told them, “And when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses…”

Matovus, Hoekstras, and PJ and JakeAnd where will they be able—enabled—to be his witnesses?

Answer: Everywhere.

Downtown Chicago, therefore, is covered by this promise. It may be new to us, but it’s not new to him.

The “when,” the “what,” the exact “where”–he’ll answer all of these.

And he’s got the “how” covered, too.

the pursuit of Wisdom

DSC_0923I frequently get “stuck” in my Scripture reading. Sometimes this happens because it’s simply not “fun” to read (parts of Leviticus fall into this category). Sometimes it’s because I’m wrestling or struggling with the ideas (other parts of Leviticus fall into this category), but sometimes—like this time—it’s because what it is presenting is so good, so beautiful, and I want it so badly.

I’m often surprised by the passages that do this to me—like this one in Proverbs 2. I’ve never particularly been drawn to the Proverbs, but I was first captured by the fervent searching for Wisdom portrayed in the early verses of the chapter and then pulled up short by this verse that describes the result of finding it: “Then you will understand righteousness, justice, and fair dealing [in every area and relation]; yes, you will understand every good path.” (Amplified version)

Doesn’t that sound amazing? Isn’t it what we need? I know I am desperate for this as a mom. All these personalities living under one roof, different ages, dealing with friend issues and school issues and sibling issues, each needing to be trained and made ready for the time when they will leave home. I need a doctorate in psychology to keep up with all the mood swings alone.

Or I need Wisdom.

What about issues? Most days I read the news and get overwhelmed. I wonder, How should I, as a Christ follower, think about this or that? How should I respond when I talk with someone who thinks radically differently than I? What does it mean to “love my neighbor as myself” in my context?

I need Wisdom.

Organization. How do I balance family, work, a home, and life or interests outside all those? Throw out the word “balance”—how about “juggle,”  or just “somewhat manage”?

I need Wisdom.

So what is it? And how do I get it?

I began to do some studying and my head was soon swimming with ideas. Here are a few:

Proverbs 1:7 says the reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge—which leads to wisdom. Then Proverbs 2:5 says wisdom leads to a worshipful fear of the Lord—so this is like a circle, with one leading to the other and vice versa. Hmm. Wisdom is also personified as a woman crying out in the city streets. Some scholars say it is the Law itself—all God’s instructions, which I would imagine would be the whole of Scripture for us. God gives Wisdom; in Proverbs 2:6 it is pictured as “coming from His mouth”—in other “words,” it IS His Word. That leads me to this thought: Christ is called the Word—and I Corinthians 1:30 says He became to us “wisdom from God.” *

The studying and resulting ideas were wonderful, but…

But how do I get Wisdom? How do I get what I so badly need?

James 1:5 tells me to ASK! To simply ask! Proverbs 2 shows me, though, that this asking is not half-hearted. The passage uses phrases like “treasure up my commands,” “make your ear attentive,” “incline and direct your heart,” and “seek (it) as for silver.”

So it’s a whole-hearted endeavor! But the end result is worth the pursuit!

I’ve been thinking about this for nearly a week now, so when we sang “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” on Sunday at church, I noticed the reference to Wisdom right away. It’s in the second verse: “O Come, thou Wisdom from on high,/Who orderest all things mightily;/To us the path of knowledge show,/And teach us in her ways to go.” Ah! Wisdom shows up even in my favorite Christmas hymns. (Here’s a link to an instrumental piano/cello rendition of it–beautiful!)

I’ve got a long, long way to go to become truly wise (and every day I understand I’m not nearly as far along on this journey as I thought I was!), but I’m asking today—and tomorrow—and the next day—and the next—for “skillful and godly Wisdom (to) enter into (my) heart…”

…so I will understand “righteousness, justice, and fair dealing [in every area and relation];” so I will “understand every good path.”

*Some of these ideas came straight from Scripture. Others came from a great article I found related to this question titled “Does Proverbs Speak of Jesus?