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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Trail Buddies

Trails - as we travel through life, there are sure a lot to choose from, right? Have you ever chosen a trail which was just too hard for you?  You know, the one that taxed your endurance, left you aching when you finally reached the end, and just generally was way too much for you?  I have!  In real life, the trails we can pursue abound - choosing the right ones is as important as choosing the right traveling companions to "hike" those trails with you!

So now you can pick out what’s true and fair, find all the good trails!  Lady Wisdom will be your close friend, and Brother Knowledge your pleasant companion.  Good Sense will scout ahead for danger, Insight will keep an eye out for you.  They’ll keep you from making wrong turns, or following the bad directions of those who are lost themselves and can’t tell a trail from a tumbleweed... (Proverbs 2: 9-12 MSG)

This morning, as I look out onto the Shenandoah Mountains, I see mist covering many of the trails and a general peacefulness to the view.  What looks so serene may actually be riddled with all kinds of hazards I have no clue actually exist in those wooded areas and rocky places.  Things like black bears, snakes, and poisonous plants.  They don't seem to just jump out at you and have little signs saying, "Avoid me".  Instead they blend into the surroundings and seem to almost taunt you to allow them to catch you unaware.  This is probably why God pays such close attention to giving us the best traveling companions for life's journeys which are riddled with hazards we often don't see until we are fully upon them, or engulfed in their irritations!

Four traveling companions:  Lady Wisdom, Brother Knowledge, Good Sense, and Insight.  Let's call them the SWIK Team (Sense, Wisdom, Insight and Knowledge).  

- Lady Wisdom:  I have told you before, wisdom is more than knowledge - it is the knowledge of what is good and true, but it is also the just judgment to use it as you need it.  It doesn't take much wisdom to look upon a black bear, hungry and intent on feeding, to avoid it!  On the other hand, to see a little squirrel who skitters to you for a few nuts doesn't seem that ominous, right? But...even "cute" squirrels carry deadly diseases!  The importance of Lady Wisdom being along on our journey is for us to know what to do with the input the other traveling companions actually give us along the way.

- Brother Knowledge:  Nothing escapes us more than acquiring ALL the knowledge on a subject.  Whenever we think we have, we are only deceiving ourselves, as knowledge is an ever-increasing, ever-developing thing.  This companion along our journey is there to bring us awareness of the facts, truths, and principles we might discover.  What we do with those is the direct result of how well we listen to Lady Wisdom!  Brother Knowledge is our teacher - Lady Wisdom is our counselor.  

- Good Sense:  Some call this sound, practical judgment.  William Temple, the last Archbishop of Canterbury, once said, "The first ingredient in conversation is truth, the next good sense, the third good humor, and the fourth wit." Considering this a little closer, I think he was onto something there.  Most of the "hazards" we come across in life are often a result of our very own words, are they not?  We come smack-dab into the path of some pretty ominous situations just because the words we have chosen led us down those paths. As Temple stated, the value of the conversation (the words) is not just in the speaking of them - it is in the closeness they maintain to the truth, the evidence they reveal of sound / practical judgment, and the delight of being able to laugh at oneself in the process.  Not every conversation we engage in is as well planned as we'd like, but maybe if we had these traveling companions along on the journey down that path, they might be!

- Insight:  This is the ability to apprehend the true nature of a matter - some call this being intuitive.  In this instance, I think our traveling companion known as Insight is really the ability to make rapid and direct connection with truth and fact.  The idea is of immediate apprehension.  Most of us apprehend the facts, but it takes a little while, right?  When Insight is our traveling companion, we have a much better chance of getting things the first time, instead of having to hear it over and over again!

These are just a few of the companions we can choose to take on the trails we pursue in life.  We determine our companions in the journey.  The journey may not be totally under our control, but who we take with us is!  Just sayin!