Thursday, November 18, 2010

“Connecting the Dots”

The longer I live, the more I love learning a new truth, or perhaps a reminder of an old truth from a fresh perspective. This week’s Bible study (in our small group) brought such a “new” understanding, and it landed in my lap with a “ker-plop!”

WISDOM…it’s one of my life-goals. I want to have wisdom. I want to be thought of as being wise. I want to be remembered by my children and grandchildren as one who possessed wisdom. I desire that to be part of my legacy.

My mind’s understanding of the meaning of  wisdom is what I “pictured” as I prayed for wisdom for myself, and for others who are close to me. Wisdom meant “more than just knowledge,” or “knowledge plus experience,” or “knowing the right thing to do,” or perhaps “a ‘smartness’ developed through years of experience.” Sometimes I think I defined it as “spiritual understanding.” Maybe I even thought that wisdom was wrapped up in “finding the appropriate words” for a given situation. I had an understanding of wisdom, and according to my own criteria, I thought I had a handle on at least “becoming” wise.

Erwin McManus, in Uprising: a Revolution of the Soul, indeed provided for me a fresh perspective on what wisdom TRULY is, according to God’s Word. Erwin writes, “…wisdom is more than just finding the appropriate words but having the words that bring healing and life. [italics mine] Wisdom is not just knowing what to say; it is also sensing the situation and appropriately responding with life-giving words and actions.”

Okay, that was the “ker-plop” for me. Oh, I have the words. I always have words. I have even been labeled  “linguistically gifted” (what does that mean anyway?). So, finding words has never been a problem for me. They come, fast and furiously, even more so if under pressure. I become linguistically brilliant. You don’t even want to get in a verbal argument with me. But, of course that is not what wisdom is about, now is it?

Isaiah 50:4-7 is a passage that McManus quotes as a description of the characteristics of wisdom. I’ve read that passage many times; I never made that link before (fresh perspective). Quoting verse 4, from the NIV:
The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught.
Two characteristics of wisdom that are described here: knowing and using words to SUSTAIN THE WEARY, and then also LISTENING. Words—knowing not only what to say, but when and how to say it. Words—knowing when not to speak them at all, but rather to listen (sometimes to another person, always to God).

Fit those two concepts into your “linguistic giftedness,” Ms Barbara!!!

Finally, and I think I’ve always known this in my heart, but it was refreshing and affirming to hear McManus describe this aspect of wisdom--
A part of wisdom is simply being able to connect the dots between your present actions and the future reaction, what you sow is what you reap. Often times we make decisions that seem great at the moment but turn out to be different in time.
Part of wisdom is being able to see and understand the future consequences of present actions. Humanly, we are not always able to do this. Sometimes we make a good faith decision that simply doesn’t turn out the way we had thought it would. Some things, however, CAN be predicted. Wisdom is being able to foresee those consequences and make decisions in the present based on that understanding.

This plays into my “Decisions-in-Advance” sermon I preach to my grandchildren. There are some temptations that will come your way that you ALREADY KNOW will not turn out for your good. Taking an extreme example, recreational drugs. You already know the end of that story. (This same philosophy can be applied to any physical addition, by the way.) It may seem the “cool” thing to do at the time. But, if you have already decided ahead of time, that you will not give in to that temptation, it’s so much easier at the time. The decision was already made, and all you have to do then is stick to the decision. I’m not saying it is easy, but it is certainly easier than waiting until the moment and THEN making the decision and sticking with it. Decision already made. Just implement it. That “decision-in-advance” is an example of true, Biblical wisdom, because you have connected the dots between present action and future consequence.

I can attest to this in my own life—at least in that area, I can say God blessed me with a measure of wisdom. I have always been able to think in terms of future consequences (perhaps being the child of an alcoholic has given me a deeper perspective than some). Additionally, a young mom in our small group discussion shared that it was interesting to hear me talk about “decisions-in-advance,” because her own mom had preached that sermon to her, and as she was growing up, she took pride in sticking with her decisions, in the area of drug temptations as an example, and she knows God blessed her through that decision.

So, after this study with McManus, when I pray for wisdom for myself and for my family, it is with a more profound understanding of what wisdom really is. From the study leader guide, “God says that if we lack wisdom (and we certainly do), if we’ll ask Him, He will give us the wisdom we desire…God says that we are to ask for wisdom from a heart that is already convinced that God is who He says he is” (James 1:5-8). Another great lesson: pray for wisdom out of a heart that knows that God is God, and I am NOT.

Perhaps this lesson hit me especially hard because I recently allowed fear and worry to cause me to use words in a way that would be the opposite of “sustaining the weary.” The issue was one close to my heart, and I allowed my firmness in the belief that I was “right” outweigh the wisdom that would have dictated a different way of approaching the issue.  In that experience, I didn’t do a very good job of “connecting the dots,” either. I didn’t foresee the consequences of my actions. Unwise again. Because God is good, fortunately, the person whom I treated unwisely was willing to forgive me.

This study didn’t just “step on my toes.” It steam-rolled over me. It left me with the realization that I have so much more to learn about wisdom, and I have so far to go in reaching that goal. But I will continue to pray for wisdom, from a heart that knows that He is God, and I then must believe that He will give it to me, even if He has to hit me over the head with it.  (James 1:5)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Thanksgiving Menu Sneak Preview

I’m having fun experimenting with digital scrapbooking. I’m not ready to replace my traditional method for my real scrapbooks, but it is fun to create a single-page layout sometimes. This is an 8.5 x 11 inch layout, prepared for printing, so that I can keep the tradition of posting the menu in the kitchen on Thanksgiving Day. I've been doing this for years, with a standard computer print-out. The kids all look for the posted menu, immediately after arrival on Thanksgiving Day. The Thanksgiving Menu is traditional and rarely varies, but they still want to see it "in writing!" Thanksgiving is the holiday that I get to most enjoy being a cook and a hostess, as it’s all about the "feast and family" that day, as we celebrate God's bounty and thank Him for our many, many blessings.

Autumn Respite

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Conner’s District Honor Choir Concert

We are proud of Grandson Conner (9th grade), as he represented his high school in the 9th-10th Grade District Honor Choir. They performed in concert at Lindenwood College on November 6, and it was our pleasure to be able to attend. As Mark noted, he (Mark) did not have the opportunity to study and perform this level of music until he was in college.