Tag Archives: wisdom

Joel 3

Not Choosing is also a Choice

Have you ever been caught betwixt two courses of action, both of which had profound implications morally, monetarily, socially, or physically, only to find yourself paralyzed? I’ve been there.

Recently I had the opportunity to purchase a barely used front-loading washing machine. This machine sold at retail for over $600. It was offered to me for $350.

I found myself paralyzed. I didn’t know what to do. I already had a perfectly functioning washing machine at home. True it is ancient, but it still works. I didn’t have $350 extra dollars laying around. However, I’m sure I could have come up with it if I had tried. I didn’t want to be seen as taking advantage of the seller. But then again, our washing machine isn’t going to last forever, parts will wear out, it will eventually leak or simply stop functioning…

I vacillated, and the machine was sold to someone else during the several-day period that I was trying to make up my mind. By not choosing, I had chosen. The message implied to the seller was that I was not interested enough to act. There is an old axiom that says;

“Better a bird in hand than two in the bush.”

The seller found a bird in his hand rather than chase the ones in the bushes – me.

You could describe my situation as a valley of decision. I say valley, because I needed to climb up and out in order to move on, before progress could be evidenced. Instead I sat there. The seller never saw my head clear the valley rim.

What other things am I in a valley of decision about?

Am I still vacillating about obeying traffic laws? Am I guarding my eyes like a savage warrior, or do I allow the occasional visual dalliance to cross my optic nerves? Do I invest regular time getting to know God, or is he a casual acquaintance who hopefully understands my busy schedule? Do I keep putting off work assignments hoping that they’ll eventually become irrelevant or forgotten?

Thousands upon thousands are waiting in the valley of decision. It is there that the day of the LORD will soon arrive. – Joel 3:14

Just like the washing machine deal, there is a day coming when it will be too late. And we don’t know when it is. But it is much closer than we think, it will soon arrive. Thousands upon thousands will feign surprise. But in reality they have already chosen. For you see, in the verse above, the Hebrew word translated as ‘decision’ is a past participle. It indicates that the decision has happened already. By going into the valley of decision, and staying there – waiting – the decision has been made. Not choosing is a choice.

Heavenly Father, may I have the courage to reject Adam’s blood-line curse of passivity. Please give me wisdom when needed, and a holy boldness to seize whatever opportunities are presented. Please grant to me the strength to choose that which brings you pleasure, not my enemy. Help me to love you better and to choose you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

We are to go through the valley, don’t stop. Jan

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Job 37

Obviousman

One of the things I truly enjoy is reading comics, some people call them the funny pages. Wiley Miller is the the creator of one named Non Sequitur. The name is Latin for “does not follow“, or loosely translated, “that doesn’t make sense“. He has several running story-lines and a cadre of assorted characters. One of my favorites is Obviousman. His super-skill is pointing out the things in life that are obvious or nonsensical. The crest emblazoned on his super-uniform is the word DUH with a red slash through it.

While reading through the book of Job I was struck by how Elihu is the equivalent of Obviousman. His revelations are mostly “DUH” statments.

Just look at how he starts out in chapter thirty-seven.

My heart pounds as I think of this. It leaps within me. Listen carefully to the thunder of God’s voice as it rolls from his mouth. It rolls across the heavens, and his lightning flashes out in every direction. Then comes the roaring of the thunder—the tremendous voice of his majesty. He does not restrain the thunder when he speaks. God’s voice is glorious in the thunder. We cannot comprehend the greatness of his power. – Job 37:1-5

Duh!

Tell us something we don’t know Elihu. What a comfort he must be to Job, “Let me tell you everything you already know about God…”

Sady, many of us are Elihu’s or Obviousmen. We parrot things that others already know, but rarely do we take time to dig and wait on the Lord to reveal truth to us. God hides things from us for many reasons.

There are secret things that belong to the LORD our God, but the revealed things belong to us and our descendants forever, so that we may obey these words of the law. – Deuteronomy 29:29

Sometimes he wants us to pursue him. We learn so much through the chase, things we would have never learned otherwise.

But you, Timothy, belong to God; so run from all these evil things, and follow what is right and good. Pursue a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. – 1 Timothy 6:11

But you Jan… follow, pursue.

Lord, please grant me the wisdom to know when I’m being obvious, when being silent is the better course of action. Also, please grant me the wisdom to know what to say when you want something said. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Duh! Jan

Job 32

Sometimes

One of the things that I’ve noticed as I advance in years is that I tend to care less what people think about me. I don’t mean that I willingly or openly insult people, or do obnoxious things just because I have the ability. No, what I mean is that I am not a slave subservient to fashion, or the opines of the group. I am much better able to stand alone as an individual. I can express a contrary position whether I have supporters or not.

Yet, I also see that there are others of similar advancing age, and older, who gravitate towards the opposite condition. They seem to become less bold, more timid in their dealings with others and the world around them. It is as if they are afraid to rock the boat because they are no longer agile enough to balance themselves when it moves.

Although Elihu the younger is addressing his companions in the following verse, I think it applies quite well to the latter group that I named.

But sometimes the elders are not wise. Sometimes the aged do not understand justice. – Job 32:9

And sometimes you can recognize those who have wisdom and those who don’t by the affect they have upon the hearers.

A person’s words can be life-giving water; words of true wisdom are as refreshing as a bubbling brook. – Proverbs 18:4

I don’t think any of the Job’s companions had true wisdom from God. They had lots of acquired knowledge, but their logic was faulty. They did not have the spirit of Christ living in them. Thankfully I do. And with that comes a wonderful promise.

If you need wisdom—if you want to know what God wants you to do—ask him, and he will gladly tell you. He will not resent your asking. – James 1:5

So, ask. God invited you to do so.

Father, I need wisdom. Daily, I need to know what steps to take and which to avoid. Please guide me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Sometimes being old simply means you’re an old fool. Jan

Job 28

Fully Understanding

Most people are familiar with the parable of the blind men who examined an elephant. If you are not, the account is below.

It was six men of Indostan, to learning much inclined,
who went to see the elephant (Though all of them were blind),
that each by observation, might satisfy his mind.

The first approached the elephant, and, happening to fall,
against his broad and sturdy side, at once began to bawl:
“God bless me! but the elephant, is nothing but a wall!”

The second feeling of the tusk, cried: “Ho! what have we here,
so very round and smooth and sharp? To me tis mighty clear,
this wonder of an elephant, is very like a spear!”

The third approached the animal, and, happening to take,
the squirming trunk within his hands, “I see,” quoth he,
the elephant is very like a snake!”

The fourth reached out his eager hand, and felt about the knee:
“What most this wondrous beast is like, is mighty plain,” quoth he;
“Tis clear enough the elephant is very like a tree.”

The fifth, who chanced to touch the ear, Said; “E’en the blindest man
can tell what this resembles most; Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an elephant, is very like a fan!”

The sixth no sooner had begun, about the beast to grope,
than, seizing on the swinging tail, that fell within his scope,
“I see,” quothe he, “the elephant is very like a rope!”

And so these men of Indostan, disputed loud and long,
each in his own opinion, exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right, and all were in the wrong!

So, oft in theologic wars, the disputants, I ween,
tread on in utter ignorance, of what each other mean,
and prate about the elephant, not one of them has seen!

By John Godfrey Saxe (1816 – 1887)

Each man thought he understood the shape, nature, and function of an elephant. And while each man was right in his individual limited assessment, those of us who can see the entire elephant know that each individual man was entirely wrong.

Like the blind men examining the elephant, Job’s friends have been groping about in the dark trying to ascertain the shape of Job’s suffering and pain. And while each thought he understood, each understood nothing.

In response, Job asked a question about wisdom, twice.

But do people know where to find wisdom? Where can they find understanding?  – Job 28:12 & 20

A little while later, in what surely was a God inspired utterance, Job made the following statement.

Then, when he (God) had done all this, he saw wisdom and measured it. He established it and examined it thoroughly. – Job 28:27

Like those of us with complete use of our senses examining an elephant, God has completely and thoroughly examined wisdom; he knows everything there is to know about it.

And this is what he says to all humanity: ‘The fear of the Lord is true wisdom; to forsake evil is real understanding.’ – Job 28:28

That says it all. Later writers of scripture said exactly the same words. The sum total of wisdom is to fear God and do good.

Father, thank you for showing me the truth about wisdom – something that like the blind men I could never understand in my limited perception. Thank you for sending Jesus to live in me so that I can have your wisdom. Thank you for life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Whose eyes are you seeing with? Jan