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Monday, March 23, 2015

Grey hair cover-up

I will admit to foolish mistakes I have made, because if I do, just maybe someone else will avoid those pitfalls.  When someone is willing to share how they got to where they are today, we call that mentoring.  When someone shares the wisdom they have accumulated through many hardships, tough times, and emotional roller-coasters, we should revel in their willingness to share the path they took and learn about the various twist and turns life put in their way.  When Solomon put pen to paper, recording those various twists and turns he had learned from by observing his father's life, the pitfalls of some of the ways his brothers handled situations in life, and then his own pathway to "the top", we should glean as much from them as we can.  It amazes me how much is packed into thirty-one chapters.  If I had to choose which books of the Bible are my favorite, the Proverbs would be right up there.  Why?  There is much to the sensibility of what is shared therein.  I am not a really fancy or "uppity" individual.  I don't like a lot of pomp and circumstance.  I really don't like the lime-light.  What I do like is the practicality of living genuinely.  I have lived behind some pretty "made up" masks - thinking I could hide my real struggles and find some solace in "looking okay" on the outside.  Truth is - I couldn't hide the reality of the struggles - they were ingrained into every step I took!  What broke me out of this place of feeling I had to "cover up" my difficult moments in life?  Realizing no one walks a truly "unique" life!  Solomon was the one who spoke about "nothing new under the sun".  It wasn't some great philosopher, but someone who came to the place of ruling an entire kingdom while he was yet a child!  When he entered this role, he didn't ask for more wealth, or even the ability to win every battle in his territory.  He asked for a double-portion of wisdom.  Maybe it was because he had seen what a lack of wisdom had done to his family members, or perhaps he remembered the stories of the Israelites wandering in the wilderness, worshiping the golden calf, and hiding forbidden things within their tents.  Regardless of the reason, I think we have much to glean from the reminder:  To be wise, you must FIRST have reverence for the Lord - if you know him - you have understanding!

To be wise you must first have reverence for the Lord. If you know the Holy One, you have understanding. Wisdom will add years to your life. You are the one who will profit if you have wisdom, and if you reject it, you are the one who will suffer. (Proverbs 9:10-12 GNT)

Men in those days looked to all manner of "wise" men - such as astronomers, philosophers, and even those of advancing years because of all they had been through in life.  The philosophers could offer opinions - beliefs held, but sometimes not always well-founded.  The astronomers could comment about what they interpreted from the ebb and flow of waters based on phases of the moon, but not really the reality or truth of how the sun, moon, and stars they studied came into being.  The sage old men who sat at the city gates could give advice on how they had navigated through life, but most of what they shared was really based on common sense.  Solomon recognized something which was preeminent to all these things - the relationship he had with his Savior and the wisdom which came from "tapping into" the mind of Christ.  To have wisdom, one needs to come into deeply personal relationship with the one who is actually wisdom's foundation!  Wisdom isn't so much a "thing" we acquire as much as it is a relationship we cultivate with the one who is all-knowing, ever-present, and all-powerful!

We actually "profit" from the "right" relationships we cultivate!  If the first relationship we focus on is that which we have with Christ himself, we are almost made wise just by association!  It is impossible to be around people who are truly in deeply personal relationship with Jesus and not notice how much they rely not upon philosophy, popular opinion, or even book-learning.  Their dependence is upon the wisdom which supersedes all other "wisdom" out there today.  It is found in the scripture, by listening intently for the still small voice of God, and through leaning into those quiet promptings of the Holy Spirit within who gently nudges us in the right direction.  Sometimes this type of wisdom is hard to put into words - but we can see it in operation in their lives.  What they have learned is to keep this relationship with Christ FIRST in their lives.  All the other stuff they will need to know in life comes as a result of having this right!

Some of the greatest wisdom I have learned from others is when they share openly about those times when they failed to keep this relationship as a priority! They got off-course, were kind of adrift in their focus, and found themselves making decision based on principles they might not otherwise even consider. There is much to be said for learning from the example of others - for in reality, if we can avoid the missteps another has taken, we are the wiser for recognizing the futility of those steps.  Some of us think wisdom is something for the old - like it was guaranteed just because someone sports a few grey hairs.  I have seen some pretty foolish "grey tops" in my day!  Age alone doesn't guarantee we will learn our life lessons!  What does?  The right relationship focus!  Just