Wisdom

This past Sunday was Father’s Day, a good day to be reminded that what is needed at present are not just successful men, or smart men, but wise fathers. But how do we become wise? There is a text I have been chewing on for a few weeks now. It is found in the prophet Jeremiah (6:16). I have come to see it as a picture of how wisdom is gained: we stand and look, we ask for help, we walk it out:

This is what the Lord says: Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.

First, we realize that life is navigated through countless moments of decision. Choice is inherent in living. Wisdom begins when we become aware of the significance of our choices, large and small. Since we cannot not make a choice (a double negative: not good writing, but effective communication), the key thing is to see where each choice leads. Wisdom begins when we “stand at the crossroads and look”. A wise person considers each pathway as to where it leads.

Second, we ask for directions. Its kind of a standing joke that when men get lost, they refuse to ask for help. Thats funny when one can’t find the house party. Its not so funny when life itself is at stake. Wise people ask for directions. Wise people “ask where the good way is”. Asking suggests friendship, conversation, prayerful connected living. We were never meant to be lonely decision makers.

And then, finally, we walk out the wise path. This is essential, for wisdom is not actually wisdom until it finds its legs. Wisdom is never just a set of ideas; wisdom is a series of practical steps.  Walking is the Biblical metaphor for our everydayness, for a sustained and sustainable routine. We enter wisdom, we choose wisdom, not in fits and starts but in everyday consistent practice.

It may be time to ask yourself: what is the good path God has called me to walk? What hinders me from walking it? And where will his good path lead me? Be encouraged: if you choose the way he calls you to walk, and choose it on a daily basis, there exists for you the promise of rest on the deepest level.

And now the kicker. If you were to look up this text in your Bible, you would see that I left off the last line. Jeremiah 6:16 actually ends with a very sobering statement: “But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’”

For me, this is the heart of the matter when it comes to wisdom. Wisdom is a path open to anyone willing to travel it. Nothing forbids us, not even our inherent weaknesses. James says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5). That is an amazing promise. The only thing that could possibly stop us, as Jeremiah soberly reminds us, is our own unwillingness to walk in the way of wisdom.

But none of us are that stubborn, are we?

Bob Osborne