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?

Wisdom

“Homecoming is special because we’re all home-going—and this allows us to check in along the way.”

We just finished homecoming week at Wheaton Academy, and that quote (said by Greg Cox) summed this one up for me. For the first time I experienced the Academy’s homecoming as a writer rather than as a teacher. I still chaperoned at the square dance/hoedown Saturday night (fun), but I also interviewed a 1947 grad who spoke on bioet

Photo by Judy Wen

hics in the advanced biology class; I talked for more than an hour with the two alumni of the year; and I met, face-to-face, all the former teachers I interviewed this summer while preparing for a different article. I also had the privilege of going to the alumni worship service Sunday morning. While some of the alum there were around my age, most graduated in the 40s and 50s. I could have listened to them talk all day long.

One former teacher (I actually taught with her) told me about her struggles following retirement. “I felt like I’d lost purpose. I asked myself, ‘What am I doing?’ Then I learned this truth: I still have the same job, to serve Jesus. That didn’t change. The only thing that changed was how I did it.”

I met a woman who cares for a very ill husband. Her days are spent dispensing medicines and aiding him in getting around. But she had a smile on her face. The hardest thing, she says, “is watching him suffer,” but she’s seeing how God is being glorified through it, and that helps.

Another former teacher (I taught with her as well) just had to place her husband in assisted living. But rather than talk about that, she wanted to spend our time together encouraging me.

They’re going home. They’re not there yet—this is not it. That recognition changes everything. It gives them purpose. These are forward-gazing people. They have looked back and seen the hand of God in their lives. Through heart attacks and strokes, through lost loved ones and errant children, through financial highs and very low lows, they have learned that God is a constant companion. He never fails, He never forsakes. He always keeps His promises.

And when they “check in” with each other on their home-going way, these are the things they remind each other of. These are the things they reminded ME of. “Hang on. He’s faithful. Call out to Him. He’s there. We’ve seen it. We’ve lived it.”

“Even to your old age I am He, and even to hair white with age will I carry you. I have made, and I will bear; yes, I will carry and will save you.” Isaiah 46:4 (Amplified)

Soli deo Gloria!

I want your thoughts, continued…

Another pic from Dave's and my Vermont trip. Wish my sister-in-law, Tammy, or my niece Anna had been there (well, not for our anniversary celebration :), but to take the picture. They would have been able to capture far better than I could the light coming through the bridge.)

If you haven’t read yesterday’s post, please do so. I really would like to hear your thoughts. One of my friends from childhood, Anne, gave her very wise perspective in a comment. I would highly recommend reading it.

Last night Emily, my eleven-year-old, shared a story that made me think of this subject of unfulfilled dreams. In her quest for an “interesting to a sixth grader” current event, she came across the story of pythons moving into the Florida Everglades. Formerly pets during the exotic-animals craze, these pythons were released by their owners when they got too big. Somehow quite a few made their way to the Florida Everglads and began eating what is usually food for the alligators. In an attempt to restore balance, people have been catching and killing these pythons who have grown to ginormous sizes. One was discovered  with a young deer–not a fawn–in its gut (guess that would hamper its getaway!).

Here’s the part of the story that relates to unfulfilled dreams: they found another that had tried to swallow an alligator and had split itself open in the attempt.

Ew! Gross! Who would ever do that?

Well, maybe we would! Could it be that we often try to grasp things that will end up splitting us wide open? Perhaps some unfulfilled dreams (even good ones) are thwarted or postponed because God is helping us to avoid this end.

I look forward to reading your thoughts.

Thanks,

Jen