Talking to a friend, and processing a situation in her life. Tough one. Lots of nuances of desire.
“Let’s pray for wisdom,” I suggest.
“Not sure I want it,” she replies cautiously, in a moment of raw honesty.
And in that reply I see the history of my own heart.
Kind of knowing what is right in my gut, but not really liking the implications. When I say I want wisdom, I usually mean I want to know the future. I want specific information that will lead to my own settled happiness. But God’s version of wisdom is not as neat.
If the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, the aversion to acquiring it is certainly the beginning of something else.
But the word Wisdom keeps surfacing in my reading of Scripture and in my conversations and in my mind this past week.
It started with my new Bible reading plan for the year. Along with everything else, we are reading the book of Proverbs, Slowly. Normally I race through Proverbs and occasionally something sticks. But this plan deliberately slows it down so you really have to take it in and make connections throughout the Bible and in your life.
And I see that First you really do need to Want it. That’s key. Because Wisdom is gonna hurt in the short run. Or at least, it often does.
“If you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.” (2:3-5)
You need to want it.
And Second I see how important it is to get it.
“Discretions will watch over you, understanding will guard you, delivering you from the way of evil, from men of perverted speech…. So you will be delivered from the forbidden woman…with her smooth words…for her house sinks down to death and her paths to the departed.”
It’s life or death.
But, “smooth words.” The persuasiveness of foolishness. It’s so easy to be taken in. How we need Wisdom to guard us. To help us see through the disguise.
And then I see the connection of wisdom to faith. Although this one is a little trickier….
I reread James chapter one this morning, because I memorized it some time ago but have become kind of rusty. And Wisdom shows up again. “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”
But the next part has always seemed a little harsh to me.
“But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
I mean, don’t we all doubt?
But in this moment I see something. “Double-minded.” Maybe “double-minded” explains the kind of doubting James is talking about. Maybe “doubt” here is more like – un-commitment. Not sure if God’s Wisdom (in a given case) will really lead to happiness. So we ask for wisdom … halfheartedly. Because we’re not really sure if we are going to take it.
Maybe James anticipated this problem when he went on to say, “But the brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position.” In other words, circumstances that are not “happy” by earthly standards, may not be as bad as they seem. In the long run.
And circumstances that Are very happy by earthly standards, may not be as grand as they seem. For “the rich man is to glory in his humiliation, because like the flowering grass he will pass away.”
So Not Doubting in James may mean Determined to Follow God’s Wisdom wherever it leads me. Determined to Obey.
The writer of Proverbs gets us to How. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.”
It always comes back to that. Trusting in the Lord. Faith in God’s character and promises.
His ways are always best. In the end.
So in the oft’ times confusing Middle, I need to Bind my heart to Trusting God. Obeying God. Hearing God. Seeking God. Receiving Wisdom.
And James tells us where the road is leading. “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the Crown of Life which the Lord has promised to those who love him.”
Perhaps not as specific as what job I should take, or who I should marry, or what house I should buy. But probably better.