“Wisdom is better than weapons of war.” (Ecclesiastes 9:18)
“Wisdom” appears 234 times in the Bible. That would indicate that it is an important concept to grasp. It has been defined quite properly as “knowledge gained from the multitude of experiences in life.” You can have an extensive knowledge of facts, yet not have the wisdom to connect the dots and put those facts to good use. Experience, however, leaves an imprint. Our life experience shapes us, empowering us to teach lessons learned to the generation that follows. I am indeed comforted that my life experiences, some traumatic, can be somehow used to help those coming after me to succeed where I might have fallen short.
I want you to bear in mind that I have not always appreciated nor heeded the voices of those that have gone before me. I look back upon a life of missed opportunities and false bravado. Believe me, you will be able to easily identify missed opportunities as you look back upon your life with targeted regret. That honesty makes us valuable to others.
In many instances, those with the most to offer have been set aside by a society that values youth, momentum and charisma. It is curious to note that the study of history in our schools has likewise become negotiable. Our short attention span embraces the here and now. I am reminded of the Prophet Jeremiah’s advice found in his Sixth Chapter:
“Ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.” (Jeremiah 6:16)
Each of us has our message. It has been shaped by experience, both good and bad. Christians call it our “testimony”. This wisdom is far more valuable than I could have imagined! Each testimony is different, and each brings important truth to those that follow us.
Before I lay out my important points, let me give you my resume. I have seen good times, and bad. I have felt what it was like to be used of God behind a pulpit to plead with the Holy Spirit of God to work among His people. I have also experienced the devastation of standing behind the pulpit looking down at the casket of my youngest son, wondering what I could possibly say at a moment when my world receded into the background. I have drawn from the well of sorrow, as well as the well of joy. Wisdom is gleaned from sadness, as well as joy. Let me pass along some important points that have been drawn from my life experience.
Nobody likes boundaries, but they’re there for a reason.
Jeremiah urged us to identify and stay on the “old paths”. The old paths are worn. They’ve been used before, and proven to be safe and reliable. Oh, I know we all have an adventuresome spirit. We want to go where “no man has gone before”. There is a better alternative. God has laid out in great detail instructions you will need to be happy and successful in this life. You can choose to strike off on your own. You can choose to ignore lines painted on the road as you drive, as well. I doubt you trip will be successful. Those lines, like admonitions from scripture, are there to protect you.
The world will tell you that there is no “right” or “wrong”. If we disagree, then I have “my truth”, and you have yours. The problem with that belief is that it contradicts the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. He stated, without wavering, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me” (John 14:6).
We live our lives within physical boundaries. No one is suggesting that we abandon them. The world would be chaotic and dangerous without non-negotiable guidelines universal in nature. We can’t speed, assault our neighbor, rob a bank or engage in a thousand other behaviors deemed disruptive and unacceptable in society.
What about moral boundaries? That’s where the Bible comes in- the arbiter of moral values and behavior. Are they not equally as important? Aren’t qualities such as kindness, compassion, truthfulness and holiness ingredients for a peaceful, happy life? The more we identify and apply God’s boundaries to our daily life, the better that life becomes. Read the Book. Believe the Book. Apply the Book. Peter wrote that living a Christ-centered life marks us as a “peculiar people” (I Peter 2:9). We are guided by a “truth” that “sets us free” (John 8:32). Doesn’t that sound better than the trauma and drama of the world?
2. Nobody likes trials, but they’re there for a season.
Jeremiah did not say the “old path” was necessarily an easy path to walk. This life brings good tidings as well as bad news. We cannot avoid trial and temptation, but the promise of Jeremiah should give us the strength and courage to go on. “Ye shall find rest for your souls” (Jeremiah 6:16). That is our promise. As we walk through the storm, we gain strength, wisdom and compassion. A second point is important to remember in the midst of tragedy and turmoil. Trial and tribulation will pass. Press forward in faith knowing that “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). There is a time and a purpose for sorrow, but it won’t last forever. Joy is in the forecast. If today is awful and unbearable, happiness may be lurking just around the corner.
“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Psalm 30:5)
The ball is in your court. You can wander, or you can wonder. I wonder how much stronger I would be if I applied myself to learning and applying the Word of God to my life. I wonder if I have to live from crisis to crisis, or can I rise above the fray? Why not cease wandering endlessly without peace and purpose. Deposit faith and trust into a heavenly account, and you will be able to withdraw peace and strength in a time of trouble.
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