On wisdom

Wisdom is defined as competence with regards to the complex realities of life.  Gaining wisdom is much different than gathering information. Wisdom teaches you how to react to the information you have.  Wisdom offers a deep abiding joy, and steadfastness in the midst of a trial.  Wisdom can also draw forth a deeper sorrow amidst tragedy because of the ability it give you to see beyond the surface.  Information can be positive, but does it give you the endurance you need to run the race?  Or does it just give you the map?

Wisdom tells me that happiness is temporary, fleeting.  Happiness is a decision on how to react to the circumstances right in front of you.  Teddy is an amazing example of reacting with either happiness or sadness to the thing that is right in front of his face.  Last night when we picked up Teddy at my parents house, we brought everyone some chocolate chip cookies that we could all share together.  We walked in my parents' house through door off the garage and were greeted by Teddy (and Sophie the bop bop).  Within seconds, Teddy's gaze moved to cookies.  He nodded vigorously, gasped excitedly, said "Dees!  Dees!" (which seems to be an efficient combination of this, these and please), and sat right down on the floor in the entryway as if to say, "Let's do this. Right here. Right now."  We had not even shut the door behind us to come inside yet! Of course, we caved in and gave Teddy a cookie, but at least made him stand up and walk into the kitchen.  His body wiggled with happiness, and he made grunts of enjoyment while he crammed a cookie in his mouth.  Soon after the cookie was gone, so was his happiness.  He wanted more!  The whining soon devolved into panic when he realized any chance for another cookie was lost.

Teddy is only 16 months old, so his wisdom is non-existent.  Without a cookie to give him happiness, his present life is almost unbearable! What does he know besides the material life, and the things that bring him pleasure and pain?  This small example from the perspective of a 16-month old child reminds me not to put my fundamental hope in the things of this world.  Put your hope in politicians, and prepare to become disillusioned with the injustice and faux integrity of men.  Put your hope in nature, and prepare for the drought. Put your hope in the pursuit of pleasure, and be crushed by pain. Put your fundamental hope in your children, and watch your marriage slowly erode. Put your fundamental hope in your spouse, and you set him/her up to disappoint you.  It is natural and human for us all to put our hope in something.  But deep, abiding joy comes from trust that there is a God who understands us and loves us despite our brokenness. A God who promises us a new world free of sin and pain.

The Book of Wisdom tells us that that we are refined by fire. We must accept and push through pain if we are ever going to be tough enough to win this race. The trials that my family is currently facing are meant to perfect us and not break us irreparably as if we were Humpty Dumpty.  The Book of Wisdom tells me we are never beyond repair, but more importantly we are never to broken to fall out of God's love.  The "kings horses and kings men" should not be the recipients of our fundamental hope, but instead the God who walked the earth and made us in his image. Christ arrives just in time to lift us up with a promise to restore us to what we were, just before the fall.

Where Does Wisdom Come From?
We all know how silver seams the rocks, 
We’ve seen the stuff from which gold is refined,
We’re aware of how iron is dug out of the ground 
and copper is smelted from rock.
Miners penetrate the earth’s darkness, 
searching the roots of the mountains for ore, 
digging away in the suffocating darkness.
Far from civilization, far from the traffic, they cut a shaft, 
and are lowered into it by ropes.
Earth’s surface is a field for grain, but its depths are a forge
Firing sapphires from stones and chiseling gold from rocks.
Vultures are blind to its riches, hawks never lay eyes on it.
Wild animals are oblivious to it, lions don’t know it’s there.
Miners hammer away at the rock, they uproot the mountains.
They tunnel through the rock and find all kinds of beautiful gems.
They discover the origins of rivers, 
and bring earth’s secrets to light.
But where, oh where, will they find Wisdom? 
Where does Insight hide?
Mortals don’t have a clue, haven’t the slightest idea where to look.
Earth’s depths say, ‘It’s not here’; 
ocean deeps echo, ‘Never heard of it.’
It can’t be bought with the finest gold; 
no amount of silver can get it.
Even famous Ophir gold can’t buy it, 
not even diamonds and sapphires.
Neither gold nor emeralds are comparable; 
extravagant jewelry can’t touch it.
Pearl necklaces and ruby bracelets—why bother?
None of this is even a down payment on Wisdom!
Pile gold and African diamonds as high as you will, 
they can’t hold a candle to Wisdom.
So where does Wisdom come from? 
And where does Insight live?
It can’t be found by looking, no matter how deep you dig, 
no matter how high you fly.
If you search through the graveyard and question the dead, they say, 
‘We’ve only heard rumors of it.’
God alone knows the way to Wisdom, 
he knows the exact place to find it.
He knows where everything is on earth, 
he sees everything under heaven.
After he commanded the winds to blow 
and measured out the waters,
Arranged for the rain and set off explosions 
of thunder and lightning,
He focused on Wisdom, 
made sure it was all set and tested and ready.
Then he addressed the human race: 
‘Here it is! Fear-of-the-Lord—that’s Wisdom, 
and Insight means shunning evil.’
Job 28 (The Message Translation)



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