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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Fishing lessons

We would like to make "wisdom" a hard thing - by complicating it as much as possible, avoiding the effort to find hidden meaning, or by just plain not listening when it is right there calling for our attention.  Sin has a much more enticing effect at times - wisdom just doesn't win out, does it?  Sin offers opportunities to satisfy some secret longing - most of which are legitimate longings, but when we don't operate in the realm of wisdom, we tend to satisfy those legitimate longings with some pretty illegitimate "fixes".  If we understand what it means to be enticed, we might just be a little wary about things we respond to over the course of the day.  To be enticed means to be drawn in - artfully drawn in by arousing some hope or desire.  In other words, it means to be lured into something.  I used to love going to the local K-Mart with dad just before a fishing trip - exploring the feathery flies, colorful lures, cleverly made "artificial" worms, and the many types of "bait" afforded the fishermen who shopped there.  I would ask about what each one did - what made it different from the others.  Dad would share how some were for the bottom feeders, others for those who ate on the surface, and some just had to be "activated" by trolling along.  Who knew there was such a "science" to arousing some interest in the fish you wanted to catch?  Dad did!  He knew because he had studied how they respond to certain lures, but also because he'd dissect their stomachs once caught - to see what they had been drawn toward in the past!  

Lady Wisdom goes out in the street and shouts.  At the town center she makes her speech.  In the middle of the traffic she takes her stand.  At the busiest corner she calls out... (Proverbs 1:20-21 MSG)

At best, the lures were simple "re-creations" of the real.  The main purpose of a lure is to entice - they don't have to be "real" to entice, just look like the real thing.  This is often how we get "drawn into" sin in our lives - there is a promise of something which looks real, but in reality, it pales in comparison to the "real deal".  The main purpose of the lure is to hook - it isn't to tease, or torment - it is to hook!  Fish bite because they are hungry.  Guess what?  We "bite" because we are "hungry", too.  We want something to "fill" an empty spot in our lives - good or bad, true or false - just as long as the spot gets filled.  Maybe this is why scripture frequently warns against allowing any of our appetites to control us - we have to learn to manage them or they will get us "biting" on anything which cleverly draws us in!  Truth be told, the thing which appears to be what will satisfy us will do nothing more than reel us into what will become our doom!

Wisdom is not a hidden thing, nor does it have to lure us in, cleverly hiding its "hook" under some disguise.  Wisdom is right out there - true, steadfast, and enduring.  Wisdom is "front and center" in our lives - we just don't take the time to notice.  We have such a hard time discerning the voice of wisdom from all the other voices, don't we?  It isn't because we aren't trying to hear, but there are a plethora of other voices calling out!  Where we feed the most is where we return over and over again looking for our next morsel.  Most of what trips us up in life is not the big stuff - it is the simplicity of knowing where it is we are "safe" feeding!  Complacency finds us in the same place, doing the same things, over and over again.  Complacency destroys us - there is no attentiveness - we let down our guard in a place of complacency.  If it looks like the "real deal" we bite into it because we aren't attentive to the fact it is just an imitation of the real.

Lady Wisdom calls - not just to be "a" voice in the crowd, but to be "the" voice we hear clearer than any others.  She knows the lures - she sees the place of complacency.  Her warnings are clear - her advice is sage.  Her expectations are simple:

- Listen.  Pay attention, hear with thoughtful attention, and then "heed" her warnings.  Do more than just be observers of her wisdom - be one who embraces it, for it will draw you out of your complacency and keep you on your toes when you do more than regard it as "good" and begin to see it as "best".

- Tune In.  Listening involves paying attention.  Tuning in means we choose a frame of mind by which we will "frame" our listening.  If you have ever had TV on while surfing the web, playing a game on your computer, or even cross-stitching a little project, you have been "double-tasking".  Your attention is framed to allow you to not really be paying full attention to either one of the tasks.  You are "split" in your focus.  You will pick up bits and pieces of both - but not everything.  Tuning in involves adjusting ourselves to respond to certain stimuli and avoid others.  I think we might just need to do a check on how "split" we are in our focus in order to see how our inattentiveness will impact our ability to recognize a lure when it comes along!

- Treasure Wisdom.  What we treasure we come to remember over and over again.  Maybe this is why I remember those trips to K-Mart with dad - I treasure those moments when we just "hung out".  Treasured items get a special place in our lives, don't they?  We have little boxes we tuck small items into, placing them carefully inside a drawer, or safely away from common view.  We put them on display in shadow box frames, keeping them safe from dust.  Treasured things receive special treatment.  Sometimes all we need to do is determine something has some worth and it takes on a whole different meaning to us, right?  I often don't recognize the "value" of something until something threatens it!  

- Concentrate.  The biggest part of understanding anything is the ability to concentrate on it.  There are days when I find it hard to concentrate on the hard stuff because I have to be in the right frame of mind to do it.  My frame of mind goes a long way on determining what it is I will direct my attention toward.  Whatever gets my attention long enough will begin to get into my mind.  When something can actually get into my mind, it has the power to begin to affect me deeply.  If you have ever eaten any of those fish you caught, you will realize the importance on concentration.  It takes a whole lot of concentration to avoid swallowing one of those tiny bones!  You have a whole lot of meat to enjoy, but one tiny bone escaping your attention can result in a whole lot of misery for you.  

- Search.  Dare I say it - nothing good ever comes easy.  If it looks too good, it probably is a lure!  The stuff which really nourishes us and helps us to grow, keeping us safe and alive, doesn't just "appear" and lay there for us to grab onto it.  We have to work a little bit at finding it!  The fish circles the surface for sometimes hours until the bug lights there - but if he is not quick, the bug will fly away as fast as it came.  Vigilance is part of searching - the fish may have to "strike" a couple of times before he finds success in "feeding".  We have to search with tenacity - not giving up when the "first feeding" results in nothing but air!  Circle a few more times - dinner is on the way!  Just sayin!