Sunday, January 1, 2012

Target Practice?

Oh, how I love all you've revealed; I reverently ponder it all the day long. Your commands give me an edge on my enemies; they never become obsolete. I've even become smarter than my teachers since I've pondered and absorbed your counsel.  I've become wiser than the wise old sages simply by doing what you tell me. (Psalm 119:97-100 The Message)

Have you ever heard the saying, "He is wise beyond his years"?  When we say this, we are pointing out the person as "smarter" than they should be for their age.  In common thinking, wisdom is something that comes with age.  As an individual ages chronologically, the opportunity for multiple experiences have presented the added benefit of learning new things.  I think we can challenge this belief that aging equates to the development of wisdom.  I have known many an individual who has "aged" chronologically without really "learning" from their life experiences!

Our psalmist gives us insight into how wisdom is developed:

- There is a delight for what God reveals.  Delight carries not only the idea of something producing extreme pleasure for the bearer / hearer, but also the feelings of gratitude that are produced in the revelation.  There are some things in life I have wished someone never shared with me.  There are images I have beheld that I would rather erase from my memory.  David is describing just the opposite here - - he has found pleasure (enjoyment) in what God reveals.

- Wisdom is produced not so much in the revelation, but in the rehearsal of the revelation.  That is the concept of pondering.  The things revealed to him by God are turned over and over in his mind until his heart gets it!  Too many times we stop at the "revealing" of truth and then wonder why we just don't find any change as a result of what was revealed.  It is in the rehearsing of that revelation that we "learn" the truth.

- The most important thing along the journey is in having the way made clear.  Our psalmist gives us insight for the journey - - he goes nowhere without God's commands.  In other words, he keeps the truths he has been taught in the forefront of his mind.  When faced with choices, he relies on what God has said.  Catch that....he doesn't have to scour the scriptures right then to find an answer because he is familiar with how God expects him to live.  He knows God's commands because he has learned to rehearse them!

- He studies the "rules".  I recently overheard someone sharing the reasons people were attending a "traffic" class after having received tickets from the police for some moving violation with their automobiles.  The purpose of the class was to "train" the drivers to not commit the same violations.  Some of the individuals attending the class thought it was "foolish" and just plain "unfair" to get the moving violation they had received.  Their excuses went something like this:

     "I wasn't following that close!  I could stop on a dime!"
     "I don't see the big deal!  I didn't hurt anyone by driving that slow!"
     "I steer just as well with my knees as I do with my hands!"

Oh my!  Now doesn't this make us think a little?  We all have "excuses" for the things we do, don't we?  These folks weren't there to "study" the rules - - in fact, they don't even feel that the rules apply to them!  The fact is - - the "rules" DO apply!  There is benefit in learning the "rules" that keep us safe.  Wisdom that is not equated to "chronological years" is really a matter of studying the "rules" that keep us safe in the journey.

- Last, but certainly not least, we are presented with the idea of obedience.  Rules are fine, but apart from obedience to the rules, they are merely words on paper.  Those drivers in traffic school did not really believe the rules applied to them - - they devalued the rules.  We learn the value of rules in the obedient steps we take in keeping them!

Let this be the beginning of a year of "wisdom" for your journey.  Examine the "excuses" you have been making for the "rules" not applying in your life.  Look at the attitude you have been exhibiting toward the revelation of truth.  If you find that it has been nothing more than an "AH HA!" experience and then you move on, you might consider rehearsing that "AH HA!" until you really get it worked out into your heart.  Someone I love dearly calls these moments "God Shots".  It is kind of like God just hits the "bulls-eye" with some truth we hear.  You know, God can hit the target repeatedly, but if we keep moving the target, we really are doing nothing more than testing his skill as a marksman!