My quest continues and my studies have led me to Proverbs 9. God paints a picture of a beautiful banquet, in a beautiful home, with a beautifully set table. And the invitation to this feast is sent to all, even the simple. The host of this wonderful meal? Wisdom. All we have to do is show up and partake.

But wait… later in the chapter it looks there’s another option available too. Yep, it’s wisdom’s counterpart, folly. Her feast sounds interesting, maybe even a bit more tasteful. Hmm…

As I study further and read through the notes in my Bible it’s clear what the passage is trying to say. Folly is offering a sort of heigtened “fast food ” experience that could get me into trouble. Ever eat something that tastes super good but then later you pay for it? I think that’s the point here.

Folly appeals to your senses, your emotions – where wisdom appeals more to your head, what you know to be right if you’d slow down and think about it.

I want to eat at wisdom’s table, how about you?

I recently lost a young friend. She was 27 years old and six months pregnant with her third child. I had first met Lois when she was a high school student and joined my senior high girls small group. She was full of energy and joy for the Lord. Later, she came to work at Dare 2 Share while she was in college. She lit up the office with her smile.

Although I hadn’t kept in touch much with Lois over the past several years, her sudden passing jolted me in a way I can’t really explain. I struggled with a heavy cloud of sadness for days and still haven’t quite been able to shake it. I keep trying to grasp why the Lord would allow me (someone not that close to her) to feel this way. I even considered that maybe I was struggling with depression and this tragedy just triggered it somehow.

Then on Sunday, as I continued my “wisdom quest,” the Lord took me to Ecclesiastes 7. Here I was studying Soloman, and God decides to talk to me about death! Look at verses 3-4:

Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us. A wise person thinks a lot about death, while a fool thinks only about having a good time.

My Bible’s notes talk about how people avoid death, not wanting to face it. I have always been that way. As a matter of fact, it’s easy for me to think of at least 3 funerals I purposely didn’t attend.

I think Solomon is trying to tell us that our sorrow should be used to help us understand how to priortize our lives and to give us a sense of urgency to fulfill our purpose here on this earth. As a matter of fact, look what I found a few chapters later in chapter 9:

Whatever you do, do well. For when you go to the grave, there will be no work or planning or knowledge or wisdom.

Thank you, Lois, for your reminder that we must live for the Lord every minute of every day! I will miss you!

I don’t want to miss it when it comes… the gift of wisdom, that is. So, I decided to try and understand exactly what it would look like. The Bible says wisdom from above looks like this:

But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. James 3:17-18

Pure, peace loving, gentle, and willing to yield to others. Interestingly, my Bible also references Hebrews 12:11 where it talks about discipline not being pleasant at the time, but afterward that there is a “peaceful harvest of right living.” And as I have studied here and there about Soloman (he was the “wisest man ever to live” you know), it becomes pretty clear that even though the wisdom is given you must still make right choices. Solomon made some good choices and some bad ones.

So, last week I was supposed to meet Rick somewhere at 6:15. I told him I would leave the office at 6 and could be there by then without a problem. Well if you know me then you can guess pretty easily what happened next. I didn’t leave on time and he called my cell at 6:14 to tell me the place we were to meet was gone. I missed his call and then he didn’t pick up when I tried to call him back. Long story short, I drove around and finally went home. He was pretty disappointed and told me that my priorities were messed up (I consistently get home late, so his complaint is justified). I listened and held my tongue, then went upstairs to “cool off.” I was angry and felt like he was trying to punish me.

I came very close to getting into the car and running away. My desire was to try to punish him somehow since that’s what I felt he was trying to do to me. But I didn’t. Something (maybe wisdom, I don’t know) stopped me and as difficult as it was to swallow my pride, I confessed to him that I knew I’d blown it. And he was right… my priorities are messed up.

I love my husband and thank God for using him to remind me of what is right. Maybe the gift of wisdom is delivered through people too, what do you think?

This isn’t the first time I’ve intentionally began this quest. It’s just the first time I’ve decided to “write out loud”  about it (that’s what I call blogging – as opposed to “writing quietly” ie. journaling).

It began in Proverbs 2. I wasn’t even planning on studying it. I just went to my favorite coffee spot to spend a few hours or so immersed in His Word (I am steadily still working through Matthew), and somehow God led me there. I wish I could remember how or even why, but I can’t. All I know is that since last Monday I have been consumed with this quest once again.

I have prayed and prayed. I’ve gone back to the Scriptures and spent concentrated time in many different passages. I’ve even talked with a few folks about it. Now 6 days since this new quest began, I am still left with more questions than answers. I am not sure what to expect, but I will share it with you as I can.

Tune your ears to wisdom… concentrate on understanding… cry out for insight… ask for understanding… search for them as you would silver…

Although many passages of Scripture talk about how wisdom is God’s gift to us, it seems as though He is telling us (is this a command?) to actively and earnestly look for it. My sense is that we need to do this first – THEN he grants us the gift. But I don’t know that for sure. And if we do tune our ears, concentrate, cry out, ask, search, seek… how do we know when the “gift” has been received? It’s not like He knocks on our door and leaves a wrapped present for us!

Is the second half of our part to take the time to wait for that wisdom from Him before acting? Hmmm… if that is true, than I’m in a world of trouble! I can’t remember a decision, personal or professional, where I truly WAITED for God’s wisdom! Not that I’m a reckless goof… but I am an “achievement addict”  who spends hours upon hours “doing.” 

Lord, help me to honestly and consistently take the time to listen quietly for Your soft voice.

Until next time.

Yesterday I woke up to a gloomy, overcast morning. And because of the stress I have been under the past few months, all I wanted to do was close my eyes again and curl up in a ball under the covers. But for some reason, I’m not sure why, I got up and headed to the gym. I remember thinking as I walked in the door, “This is good – maybe a little exercise will jolt me out of this mood.” So I hooked up my iPod and hopped on the eliptical.

Only minutes after I began I heard it. The beautiful song by Alison Krauss, A Living Prayer. Her angelic voice to a soft melody singing… “In this world, I walk alone, with no place to call my home… But there’s One who holds my hand, the rugged road through barren land.” The lyrics began to paint a picture of a Savior who never leaves and always provides strength. “The road is steep… eyes to see… strength to climb.” I closed my eyes and tried not to cry.

I can still hear the chorus, the words so eloquently capturing exactly how I felt, “In Your love I find release, a haven from my unbelief. Take my life and let me be a living prayer, my God to Thee.”

How can my life be a living prayer? Why do I allow my unbelief to consume me? I know that His love is a haven, a place to find release. I just need to run to Him, spend time with Him. I get caught up in wanting to control – circumstances as well as people. That is when I feel the road getting longer and darker and harder.

A living prayer? Yes –  moment by moment, by depending on Him.

When I first learned about the “gifts” that were given to each believer in Christ I didn’t quite get it. I understood a gift to be something tangible, something given to another with no strings attached – hence the word “gift.” Right? Wrong! These gifts were spiritual in nature and I couldn’t see or touch them. Okay, I thought. Like the gift of salvation, right? “Yes, that’s it,” I was told by longtime believing friends. So I went on about my business without really putting a whole lot more thought into it. Every once in awhile I’d hear a sermon on 1 Corinthians 12 and I would listen intently, once again trying to figure the whole thing out.

Then, a few days ago, something happened that not only helped me understand this teaching even better, but it left me overwhelmed to tears. I literally saw the gift of MERCY expressed in a magnificantly supernatural way. Let me explain…

As I was getting ready for work on Thursday October 2nd, I received a desperate call from my mom. Her and Dad had just heard from the Doctor about the results of my Dad’s medical tests the week before. He has a tumor on his kidney. Mom was really upset and the only comforting thing I could say was, “sit down and have a cup of tea – try to relax – I’ll call you back in a bit.”

I knew exactly who to call. My friend LeAnne (I call her Le for short) used to be an oncology nurse and now she is a sort of “resident nurse” for our entire church, giving out whatever advice she can and always knowing exactly the right thing to say. She took my call and explained that she was late for a meeting, then heading up to the mountains for a planned church retreat, then coming back down for a funeral of a close friend who had died suddenly only 5 days prior. My immediate thought? Wow! This is a bad time to burden her! But listen to how she responded….

She listened intently while I told her what had happened and tried to explain Dad’s prognosis the best I could. She talked it through with me and told me what she knew about kidney tumors. Then… she committed to going online once she reached the mountains (yes, during the retreat) and calling me back before lunchtime! I responded that that was too much to ask, but she wouldn’t back down from her commitment.  Her commitment alone took me back. I remember thinking in my mind how amazing it was – that she truly has the gift of mercy – I knew that I wouldn’t have ever made that kind of commitment. However, if I didn’t hear from it would be okay. My goodness, her plate was extremely full!

At around 11 am, my cell phone rang. I was in a meeting but saw that, sure enough, it was Le. I asked permission to take the call and she briefly explained the results of her research and gave me several ounces of encouragement at the same time. As I hung up the phone, tears began to flow quietly from my eyes. What a wonderful expression of Christ’s love!

I am so thankful that God has equipped the Body of Christ with supernatural gifts. And that day, and again as I relive it now, I am so thankful for my friend Le’s beautiful expression of her gift. She is my SUPERhero!

Once more, my friend Mr. Ortberg has hit me square between the eyes. As he explains the bondage that this addiction has over many, I suddenly realize that I am right there at the front of the line, looking for a “fix” around every corner. Here are just a few of the signs:

  • Feeling hurt by what others think of us.
  • Habitually comparing ourselves to others.
  • Being competitive in the most ordinary situations.
  • A nagging sense that we aren’t important enough, or special enough.
  • Being envious of another’s success.
  • Trying to impress important people.

So, the question for me to consider is this: “To whom do I belong?” As I ponder this question it seems so easy to answer. “Of course I belong to GOD!” Then why do I long for approval? All my life I’ve longed for the attention of others. Even as an independant and rebellious teenager, I was still searching desperately to belong and be loved.

I am convinced that this is an addiction that is not conquered very easily. It is a “forever-hungry” monster that cannot always be seen by others. I search for approval from my boss, peers, colleagues, husband, son… and even my parents (still!). Rather than focusing on doing what is right, I can become distracted by my desire to gain approval from others. Maybe I’m afraid of standing alone. If everyone is with me, if they approve of who I am and what I’m doing, than I am less vulnerable. Right?

Wrong. Can I seek the approval of the only One who matters and be okay if I am standing alone? I am afraid. Maybe I don’t truly believe that God will give me the confidence I need to carry on. I honestly don’t know. All I know is that He tells me through His Word that I do belong to Him and that He will never leave me or forsake me.

I know I will constantly struggle with this addiction and it may be the source of a lot of my unhealthy behavior. So please pray with me that I can seek to please the only One that matters…

I’m reading this great book entitled, The Life You’ve Always Wanted by John Ortberg. It’s a book about spiritual disciplines, something I know very little about. As I began to read it a couple of weeks ago, I realized that Mr. Ortberg knows how to communicate this heavy subject in a very practical way, using language that even I understand.

One of the chapters that really hit me between the eyes was titled “An unhurried life.” He talks about how people these days take time more serious than eternity. He describes how obsessed we are with “fitting it all in” and describes how hurry and love are basically incompatible. Upon reflection it was easy to diagnose.

I most certainly have “hurry sickness.” I am always wishing for more time. I wonder if I will ever be content…

The scariest part is that I believe him when he writes, “The most serious sign of hurry sickness is a diminshed capacity to love. Love and hurry are fundamentally incompatible. Love always takes time, and time is one thing hurried people don’t have.” Wow! How convicting is that!

God has provided several opportunities for me within the last two weeks to prove my patience and dependance on Him. My prayer is that I continue to heed Mr. Ortberg’s advice and practice “slowing” my life down in order to wait on the Lord and expand my capacity to love (especially those closest to me).

This passage in James provides a reminder to continue to “stay the course” and rely on God:

“Take the old prophets as your mentors. They put up with anything, went through everything, and never once quit, all the time honoring God. What a gift life is to those who stay the course! You’ve heard, of course, of Job’s staying power, and you know how God brought it all together for him at the end. That’s because God cares, cares right down to the last detail. “

Pray that I stick with it.

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