Out in the open wisdom calls aloud, she raises her voice in the public square… Proverbs 1:20 (NIV)
The further I get in my journey the more I both appreciate wisdom and realize how little I have understood wisdom through the years. In my youth, I thought of wisdom as simply making good choices. I have come to realize and appreciate that that wisdom is deeper and more mysterious than I ever knew.
Today begins our chapter-a-day journey through the ancient book of Proverbs. It is a collection of thoughts and short sayings about wisdom. Even in today’s introductory chapter, I find the wisdom is presented in multi-faceted fashion:
It comes from instruction. (vs. 3)
No matter how much you have, there’s more. (vs. 5)
There is a spiritual component at its root. (vs. 7)
There is a generational component, as those who are further in their life journeys have wisdom to offer me of which I am ignorant at my current stage of life. (vs. 8)
There is a communal component to wisdom that finds its source in the people with whom I surround myself and the influence I allow them to have on my thoughts and behavior. (vs. 10-19)
The most fascinating thing I find about wisdom comes from the second half of the chapter. Wisdom is personified and embodied. Wisdom begins to speak. Wisdom is a woman.
In ancient literature and mythology, the personified Wisdom is often named “Sophia,” from the Greek word defined as “wisdom.” That Wisdom should be personified as female makes complete sense to me. I have written on multiple occasions regarding the lessons I’ve learned from being surrounded by women most of my life. As with wisdom, women are multi-faceted. They can at once be simple and complex, strong and gentle, resilient and fragile. Just when I think I have a handle on understanding them, I am reminded that there is a mystery to be endlessly understood.
In the quiet this morning I find myself contemplating Sophia. It’s been a while since the last journey through Proverbs (April/May of 2013), and so much has changed for me in those seven years. I’m at a completely different waypoint on life’s journey. I’m looking forward to what God has to teach me through Sophia and the book of Proverbs in the next few weeks. When I was a young man I considered myself wise, but from where I currently stand on Life’s road I’ve come to realize that there is always more wisdom a little further up and further in.
About This Post
These chapter-a-day posts began in 2006. It’s a very simple concept. I endeavor each weekday to read one chapter from the Bible. I then blog about my thoughts, insights, and feelings about the content of that chapter. Everyone is welcome to share this post, like this post, or add your own thoughts in a comment. Thank you to those who have become faithful, regular or occasional readers along the journey along with your encouragement.
[Proverbs] purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives, to help them do what is right, just, and fair. Proverbs 1:3 (NLT)
I heard a call back to the book of Proverbs. Along life’s journey I’ve gone through times when God pushes me to pick up the pace, take a narrow path, and step out of my comfort zone. I’m in one of those times right now. We’re not talking about major life decisions or changes noticeable to the masses. These are small changes in daily trajectory that, over time, take you to a different destination.
So much of “success” in life is about discipline. We see an olympic gold medalist on television for a minute singing a national anthem with their hand over their gold adorned chest. What we don’t see is the years of daily and hourly discipline in time, energy, priorities, diet, exercise, and practice.
I want to finish well and be successful in the things that truly matter. To win that prize I need discipline in the minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, day-by-day thoughts, words, and actions of this life journey. I need wisdom to make the tweaks in life which will spur me in the right direction.
And so, I’ve heard a whisper in my heart. I’m called back to the book of Proverbs.
Therefore, they must eat the bitter fruit of living their own way, choking on their own schemes. Proverbs 1:31 (NLT)
It is said that life is wonderful teacher, and so I’ve found it to be true. Over the holidays, Wendy and I have talked a lot about children and parenting. The holidays are filled with gatherings of family and friends, so it has been interesting to interact with and observe children and parents in various family systems. Our girls are now out of the nest and making their way on their own respective paths just as many of our friends are just setting out on their parenting journey. We’ve found ourselves chatting about lessons learned and observations the two of us have made.
I find it interesting in today’s chapter that Wisdom shouts out and calls us to follow and seek her out. She does not come running after us. She does not rescue us from our foolishness. In the same manner, the Prodigal’s father neither forbid his foolish son to leave home, nor did he journey to the distant land to find and rescue him. I have often observed parents who try so hard to protect their children from every mistake and every one of life’s ills by suffocating them with controlling rules and regulations. Home is Gitmo. Assuming the worst of both the child and of life, they try to isolate and grip their children tightly.
The problem is that I’ve found children to be both slippery and squirmy. When you try to clamp your hand tightly around something slippery it usually shoots out somewhere you didn’t intend.
And so, Wendy and found ourselves discussing both extremes of controlling and permissive parenting. Wendy nailed it when she said that the balance between the two was “reasonable” parenting that gave wise and necessary guidance and discipline without tipping over into unreasonable control. Easier said than done, but in today’s chapter I find Wisdom striking a similar balance. She shows the way, provides the road map and calls us all to follow. If we choose to listen we experience the blessing of having listened and obeyed. If we choose not to listen, well then life and the consequences of our own choices becomes a wonderful teacher.