Wednesday, 15 June 2011

A life well-lived


'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

Good old Charles Spurgeon once again summed this up for me:

"'If any of you lack wisdom.' There is no "if" in the matter, for I am sure I lack it ... for I know I may do very stupid things, even in plain matters, unless Thou dost keep me out of mischief'.

I know that feeling. I have a knack of saying the wrong thing, saying nothing when I should say something (not as often, that one) and putting my foot in it in a dramatic manner on some occasions by doing or saying something stupid.

I want to be wise. Here am I asking you to give me wisdom. The only thing is, I'm not really sure what it is I'm asking for, so I'm not really sure when I'll know if you've given it to me.

What is wisdom then. Here is what I know about wisdom:
The dictionary definition is 'the quality or state of being wise; knowledge of what is true or wise coupled with just judgement as to action; sagacity, discernment or insight'. Sense, understanding. The opposite is stupidity or ignorance.

Sounds good, then. I'll take all you have of that, please.

It isn't that simple, though. Is wisdom a lifetime thing? Can a middle aged person who has a long way to go in the Spiritual Maturity stakes be wise? Is wisdom a constant thing, as in 'so-and-so is a wise person', or is it something that comes and goes? Do you equip people with wisdom for a specific situation, and then take it away again? That doesn't sound likely. Is it a gift that you give that requires exercising and thus grows?

Is wisdom a combination of spiritual gift and intellect? I know that you've given me a brain to use, and words to express myself, and the ability to consider things rationally, or else I wouldn't be here now wittering on. Can one achieve wisdom by thinking enough?

Surely not, or it wouldn't be a gift. Can people who don't ask you for wisdom not be wise, then? Or is there a sort of spiritual wisdom that is the hallmark of a child of yours, who has been blessed with wisdom of a different nature?

I think wisdom is something that helps with life. I would like to be able to make good choices. I would like to be able to advise people who ask for advice (and refrain from advising those who don't ask for it) and advise them well. I would like to trust myself, insofar as I am sure as I can be that what I am doing is what you would have me do in a given situation. And yes, if I'm honest, I would like people to think, 'Oh, Helen Murray? She's a wise lady'.

Why do I want all that? Oh, I don't know. Loads of reasons. I want a measure of confidence that I can cope with what life throws at me. I want not to feel baffled by life's dilemmas. I want to be more decisive. I want to make good decisions. I want to be sensible. I want to worry less. I want to help more. I want to offer something to my family and also my church family. I want to be in tune with you. I want to understand. I want deeper knowledge and perception and discernment. All those things.

Hmm. Some of those reasons sound like reasons not to give it to me. When I say I want to trust myself, to be confident, secure, decisive, that sounds a bit like my need to be self sufficient sneaking into the equation again. That's not what I meant. Or I didn't think it was. But if I were wise...

Michael Card says: 'Wisdom is not the ability to be correct all the time. Genuine wisdom is concerned with a life well-lived. Wisdom isn't something we know as much as something we become'.
Joy in the Journey

So that bursts my bubble. I would quite like to be right all the time. Just ask my husband. Even with the children I find myself on occasion correcting them and arguing over a ridiculous point of inconsequential trivia because they are wrong and require to be put right. At this point I have to remember something I read once, 'Excuse me, who's the grown up?'

Genuine wisdom is concerned with a life well-lived. I like that idea very much. I only have one of these life-things. I want to do it right.


The penny drops.

That's it. I want to be wise because I want to do it right. Being right is one thing, but getting it right is what I long to do. I am desperate not to waste what I have; what I am. This year is an amazing journey into who I am and who you would have me be and I want to get somewhere with it. I want to understand you as much as my limited little human brain can. I want to be what you want me to be, do what you want me to do, achieve what you want me to achieve and live as you want me to live. I know that I can't do any of that without something extra; something from you. I need you to guide me. Make me wise, Lord God, so that I can see with your eyes.

I want to get it right.

I'm actually afraid to get it wrong. I so often feel defeated by life and I know that I would be utterly so if you were not with me. The closer I walk in step with you the closer I know I will get to living my life as you want me to. I guess I'm always going to get it wrong because I am only me, but with you leading me along, I can get through, can't I?

I'm afraid of so many things, and many of them come down to the fear of getting it wrong. I fear being out of control. I fear not reacting the right way when I need to react quickly. I fear trying something and failing. I fear humiliation and embarrassment, and people seeing my inadequacy. There are things I know I don't do well so I don't do them at all. This is why I long to be wise. I sort of hope it might protect me from some of this. Is that wrong? Is my motivation all wrong, then?

But you don't say that I have to be all sorted out and clear about why I want wisdom before I can ask for it; indeed you're probably sitting up there right now smiling to yourself at the heavy weather I'm making about it, aren't you?  Oh alright then.

Yesterday I had half an hour and I sat in a beautiful churchyard on a hillside and drank a cup of coffee (that I just happened to have) and the sun was shining and it was peaceful and quiet. It was a little oasis of calm. I sat with you, Lord, and although I didn't hear you in any clear sort of way - thunderous or still and small - I asked you about wisdom. I asked you what it was about, and whether I could have it. I looked at the graves all around me, old and new and read the names of so many people who have been and gone. I saw the grief of those who inscribed the headstones: 'in loving memory', 'much missed', 'dearly departed'. It made me think about life and death.  And in typical manner it made me realise how much I want to get it right.

Time is short. I don't want to coast through life and realise I wasted it. Spiritually speaking I've already done enough of that. I want my life to mean something and the only way I can make that happen is by listening to you and doing as you tell me. So I need wisdom. More of it. Every day. Because like my friend Spurgeon says, without it I get into so much trouble.

Please, Lord, give me wisdom. Whether I deserve it or not. You are wise. You are the fount of all wisdom, and you have said that you will come to live in me, and so you have. Let the seed of wisdom that you planted grow into something, Lord, so that I can stand in front of you one day and you will say that I have led a life well-lived. Make me grow wise as I grow up in you. I want you to be proud of me.

'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.'

Amen. Thankyou. 

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