“It’s easier to go down a hill than up but the view is much better at the top.” Henry Ward Beecher
It’s actually been a long time since I’ve had any problems with my old car, even though I currently have over 310,500 miles on it. Earlier this week I got the privilege of riding high up in a tow truck after my car died right in the middle of the freeway on my way to work. Oh, joy! (sigh)
Since my tow truck driver was loudly taking care of personal matters on his Bluetooth, I spent the trip looking around and enjoying the ride. It’s been awhile. The view at the top was actually pretty cool.
Since the truck was very sturdy, I felt safe in the cab, like not even a strong wind could knock it over. It was great to see potential problems and accidents far ahead of you and be able to get around them. And it was kind of fun looking down on all the other cars zooming by. Hey, get off your cell phone and pay attention to the road! What are you listening to ‘cause it looks like you are having fun! I can totally see why some people like having trucks and SUVs, even though they are total gas guzzlers. Suddenly, the thought occurred to me: this is the perspective of wisdom.
Flickers of Proverbs that spoke of wisdom flitted through my mind … wisdom comes from the fear of the Lord… the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge… the knowledge of wisdom is sweetness to the soul… the Lord gives wisdom, from His mouth come knowledge and understanding… (9:10, 1:7, 24:14, 2:6; NKJV).
It occurred to me: when you go up higher, you see more. Everything, even big problems, seem smaller from the sheltered safety of your heightened perspective. You feel safe even if the Driver of your Life Bus seems busy with other matters because He totally knows what He is doing and you know Him. You can see around problems and plan to avoid them ahead of time. If you’re riding high enough (airplanes typically cruise between 30,000 and 40,000 feet altitude), you can fly over your problems faster and cover more ground. And you will make it safely to your next destination, broken “fill-in-the-blank-in-my-case-old-car” and all. And I began to worship, quietly, with just my lips moving, as my tow truck driver babbled away in Syrian (I asked later). I didn’t want him looking at me sideways and telling whoever he was talking to that his latest customer was singing this crazy God song.
You see, I became a Christian in a high school church camp and immediately began devouring the Bible spiritually as a girl who was not raised going to church. The Bible came alive to me, and I was fascinated by everything in it. You know how it often is with new Christians.
I couldn’t read it enough. I couldn’t talk about it enough. I discovered Christian radio and became a Bible addict. I loved letting its words seep into my soul and imprint my heart. I began reading a chapter of Proverbs a day and realized I had stumbled onto a treasure trove of wisdom commentaries on character and character development. I began memorizing verses. Did that for years. I began to learn that wisdom was much more than knowledge. It was seeing things from God’s perspective, getting to know God, learning to apply Biblical principles, and gaining insight and judgment directly from His heart of love. I never got over being a Bible addict.
I began learning who I was as a believer. I started practicing principles for success and communication and dating. I found out what my spiritual gifts were and started serving in ministries in my church. I began to discern character qualities to emulate and qualities to get rid of or avoid. These all have amounted to a lifelong lesson in humility as I fail and get back up to try again. An old Japanese proverb says, “Fall seven times, stand up eight.” That’s me!
Not because I struggle under law and legalism, but because I am human and live out each day with God’s grace and favor.
I listen to older and wiser Christians as well as friends, ministry associates, pastors, and even younger and newer Christians. Anyone and anything can become a source of knowledge and wisdom if my heart is open to God’s Spirit. I can learn from others quite well. My favorite source of wisdom, however, is the Bible. It may not speak specifically to each and every situation you may come across, but all principles for living are present and can be searched out and applied appropriately with reading, consulting, and prayerful consideration.
Recent innocuous example: I began considering last month when I was going to write every week for my blog. Sunday is usually my shopping day because Saturday is typically fraught with working out, household chores, training and conferences from our church and professional associations, and activities for our church singles group. Since I’m the activities coordinator, I typically end up going to most of the activities. Wisdom says choose Sunday because I have been trying to make it my Sabbath day of rest for months anyway, and writing is very enjoyable and relaxing to me. Since Sunday is the biggest undisturbed block of time that I can set aside for writing, it became my official writing day.
Making Sunday my writing day meant further adjustments, however. It meant changing my priorities and making better use of the rest of my week. It meant not scheduling an activity every weekend for our singles group. It meant encouraging more people to plan unofficial, spontaneous activities and network with each other to do so. It meant disciplining myself when I would like to eat out and play with my buddies instead of staying home and writing. It meant planning ahead to write articles during the week when an activity will fall on a rare Sunday (like next week’s upcoming Super Bowl party). And it meant giving myself a shorter deadline for finishing an article (which I’m going to miss today. Hopefully, I will be a better steward over my time by staying off FB and actually make my deadline next time!).
How do I apply wisdom to something more serious, like dating?
Well, I must admit: I rarely date these days. I didn’t kiss dating good-bye. I am just not willing to divvy up and dole my heart out to just any guy who comes along who goes to church. All kinds of single men go to church. I want to get to know a man for a while, in various settings, so that I can prayerfully observe and contemplate if I what I see before me is what I am willing to live with the rest of my life if this man never changes a single, solitary thing. I have no delusions about changing someone. He has to want to change for himself and the Lord more than he wants to change for me or else the change might not stick! I’m going to become his wife, not his mommy. I cannot make him grow up—that’s his job, right now!
I want to be purposeful about who I date, and why. I do not want to be stuck in a lousy relationship with some man who has poor character because I got desperate and lonely. For instance, Proverbs says to avoid close relationships with someone who has a serious anger problem because you will adopt his or her anger issues and you will develop a trap for your soul (22:24-25). Do you know anyone who is in an abusive romantic relationship and seems trapped in it?
Many divorced people, including my friends, will tell you—maybe you could even tell me—that the only thing worse than being single and lonely is being married and lonely.
I can’t tell you how many Christians I have known, both men and women, who crashed in the plane of desperate dating decisions and took a long time to recover, if ever, with horrid, long-term consequences. Also, having godly love for my brothers means that I refuse to ruin my future and theirs by being frivolous about dating. I will treat them with dignity and respect, not play with their hearts and treat them like objects that will make me feel better about myself as a woman. I’m free to treat my brothers as human beings and be their friend instead of standing in the way of God’s full will and destiny for them.
My decision to take dating seriously instead of just another recreational leisure activity has allowed me to focus on my professional, personal and spiritual development, ministry, and having my heart and body kept (relatively) intact and whole, ready to give to my husband at just the right time. Only learning His perspective from the Word of God and applying what I’ve been learning, consistently and over time, has helped me benefit from His wisdom. If wisdom comes from being high above the crowd, well—you can’t get any higher than God’s perspective!
It is a learning process, but I have learned to apply wisdom and continue to learn new ways of applying wisdom to all the various aspects of my life. I have not made all wise decisions all the time, but I am gaining good judgment from experience, and experience from bad judgment, like Will Rogers has said.
I really like Will Rogers. The more I read about him, the better I like him. If Biblical wisdom and Bible verses are too boring for you tonight, he has a few quotes that encapsulate wisdom in a humorous way…
When you’re through learning, you’re through!
A man only learns in two ways;
One by reading, and the other by association with smarter people.
There are three kinds of men.
The one that learns from reading.
The few who learn by observation.
The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.
So…you want to be a wise guy, or wise? Start reading your Bible for God’s heart, especially the book of Proverbs, and ask Him for clear direction and wisdom so you can practice it.
If you have never done it, I challenge you to read one chapter of Proverbs a day for 31 days (see how Proverbs has 31 days? Sneaky of God to make just enough chapters for a month of readings!). Look for yourself amongst its pages. He’ll start showing you some amazing stuff, if you’re willing to apply whatever He says.
Goodreads Will Rogers quotes
http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/132444.Will_Rogers accessed 01/31/2016