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Friday, March 11, 2016

Caution requires attentiveness

In the Book of Proverbs, there is much emphasis on the type of learning which comes by listening and then following the wisdom given to us through our elders, teachers, and good leaders. Wisdom doesn't come with age...it comes because we learn from what we are taught. We all know there is a whole lot of teaching going on each day, but there is far less learning than there is teaching! Learning requires keen observation, good listening, and the willingness to apply what one is taught. Without these three elements, we fall somewhere short of wisdom.

Above all, be careful what you think because your thoughts control your life.  (Proverbs 4:23 ERV)

According to our writer of this proverb, wisdom comes when we actually begin our quest for wisdom by looking for it. We don't look for something unless there is a desire to make a discovery. As I travel, there are occasions when I see signs posted warning me to watch for some form of animal crossing the road. The signs actually alert me to the possibility of one of these large animals just deciding it is the right time to cross the road as I am making my way on my journey. In order to avoid them, I have to discover where they are and be alert to their movement. I think the first step to getting to know God may be a little similar. We are alerted to his presence by the signs we observe. Then we start to look for him in ways we had not previously used, such as when we turn on our bright lights while driving in order to expand our line of sight. The actions of observation lead us to take specific steps to aid us in our ability to make further discovery.

As discovery is made, it leads us to action - the next step in the learning process. Too many times we think we have learned just because we have made discovery of some insight. Let me assure you, it is one thing to observe the herd of elk along the side of the road. It is quite another to understand how nimble they are at jumping fences to get to the other side! We discover their presence, observe their beauty, but until we see them in action, we don't actually learn much! Once we see their action, it alters how we drive and the degree of caution we exhibit in our continued journey. Why? We recognize they can cross our path quickly, in large herds, and with great agility. They don't alter their course just because we are there. They expect us to alter ours! There are times when I think we observe what God is doing and we think he will somehow fit that into what we are doing. We might just do well to not only observe what God reveals to us, but use it to alter how it is we are traveling!

The other part to learning is this idea of avoiding some things along the way. Discovery involves assimilating information into useful knowledge which somehow affects how we live. At times, this means we pursue one course while totally avoiding others. Why? Some hazards exist which need to be avoided and to avoid them we need to be alert to them. We learn by paying attention - tuning in so as to make keen observation. Then we alter our course so we avoid things which are best left alone. We apply the knowledge we are given in order to not only make further discovery, but also to avoid the things which are best left undiscovered in this life!  Just sayin!