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Monday, March 12, 2012

I smell something!

I have never been to the Hawaiian islands, but I know one of their traditional welcoming gifts is the flowered lei they place around your neck.  It is a beautiful arrangement of flower petals, rich with the aromatic beauty of the island from which they were taken.  In a sense, these flowers are like "garland" - adorning the visitor with beauty and anointing them with the aroma of the beautiful flora of the region.  God has a type of "garland" he would like us to adorn ourselves with:

"Take this to heart. Do what I tell you—live!  Sell everything and buy Wisdom! Forage for Understanding!  Don't forget one word!  Don't deviate an inch!  Never walk away from Wisdom—she guards your life; love her—she keeps her eye on you.  Above all and before all, do this: Get Wisdom!  Write this at the top of your list: Get Understanding!  Throw your arms around her—believe me, you won't regret it; never let her go—she'll make your life glorious.  She'll garland your life with grace, she'll festoon your days with beauty." (Proverbs 4:4-9 The Message)


To be "garlanded" with grace suggests being encircled with grace.  Let's look at some of the things we are to "adorn" ourselves with as children of the King.


Buy wisdom and forage for understanding.  Interesting words - buy and forage.  In the New Living Translation these are written as "get" and "develop".  Either way, both word are suggestive of action - no sense of inactivity or passivity is displayed in either of the terms.  When one goes off to "buy" something, there is first an investment - one has to have something with which to complete the purchase.  When we think of wisdom, we are thinking of the person of Christ.  God is simply reminding us of the importance of bringing our whole self into the relationship - being willing to lay down self in order to obtain wisdom.


To forage, one has to invest a whole lot of work into searching.  This reminds us of the effort we need to apply in gaining wisdom and understanding.  It is one thing to be given an object; quite another to "uncover" it by diligent seeking.  To get or develop also imply some type of effort on our parts.  I don't believe God is implying that we get wisdom (Christ) by any effort of our own, but that we are willing to make the investment into the relationship which will cause us to grow in grace. 


Look again at our passage - when we do our part (seeking with our whole hearts, committing the word to memory, and staying on course), look at what we can count on in return.  Wisdom will guard our lives - her oversight will never be missing.  This gives me hope because I know my tendency to wander without purpose.  Wisdom (Christ) gives me purpose and his oversight provides me with all I need in order to walk uprightly.


As I opened today, I referred to the leis of the islands - rich in aroma.  Nothing adorns the life of a believer quite like the "aroma" of grace.  Did you ever stop to think about grace having an aroma?  Well it does!  There is something divine in grace - and divinity exudes an aroma of forgiveness, love, compassion, long-suffering, etc.  The "aroma" we exude is in direct comparison to that which we allow to "adorn" our lives.  If it is the Spirit of God's grace, we can count on a heavenly aroma!