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Sunday, January 6, 2013

Wisdom Deficient

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5 NIV

 On this January morning as I look out my window I see gray skies and I can’t help but notice how winter has ravaged my gardens. Brown grass, dead perennials, leafless trees, and bare flower beds. All of last years beautiful gardens are but a memory! I am left to feast only on striking red Nandina berries, lush evergreens, interesting tree bark, beautiful birds and scampering squirrels. Not so in the garden of my heart! Praise God, all flowers bloom year round and nothing dies! Color abounds and God’s beauty is everywhere at all times. So off to the garden of my heart I go because I have an appointment with the Master Gardner. I need to shed the gray shadows of winter. It is a new year. It is time to pick myself up and press on hoping to do better on every level.
I’m usually the one who begins speaking first, mumbling foolish gibberish about who knows what, but not today. Today the Master Gardener meets me head on with a couple of questions. “Paula, what is it that sets your stomach churning, stresses you out, and causes you anxiety? What is that ‘thing’ that presses down on you so hard that you feel that you are teetering on the brink of depression?”
Wow! Reluctantly, I begin to confess many things starting with the insecurity I feel because of my history of personal flaws and failures. I tell Jesus about my memories of revisited pain from past brokenness, and I express my fear for the future. There are family needs, financial burdens, health issues, and retirement concerns. I try hard to justify my lack of trust. I spill out my issue of needing to be in control of all things at all times. There are relational issues. I admit that I am quick to anger and often slow to forgive. I confess that judgmental attitudes often plague me. This behavior pushes down hard on my spirit.
I ask, “God why am I so lacking in my wisdom? Why can’t I subdue my emotions that send me into panic mode? Why can’t I be wise enough to be quiet instead of responding so quickly? Why can’t I know how to handle the ups and downs of life more peacefully? Why can’t I be wise enough to trust you for the future? Why am I impatient as I wait for you to open and close doors in my life?” I begin to long for wisdom that reveals solid direction in my life. I wish for a billboard with a dazzling message telling me the way that I should go. I want my cell phone to ring, a call straight from heaven with exact information regarding all that I do not understand. I live in a real world…memories of springtime butterflies, blooms, and warms breezes are just not doing it for me during times when I feel so lacking. I don’t need spiritual assurance. I need accurate details for the future.
As God so often does, he responds to me first with a smile and then with loving words. “Paula, have you forgotten? I made you. I know all of your flaws and defects. I know where you are the most vulnerable and where you are the most likely to experience brokenness. I know your weakness regarding control and fear. I know you over react, but do not worry; I can use each of these things for your eternal good and my glory.”
As I ponder Jesus’ words I come to the conclusion that it is entirely possible that at the very last minute when God created each of us, he purposefully placed within us a personal physical or emotional defect, a flaw, or perhaps a weakness as his final creative touch of love in our life. His plan undoubtedly was to use that flaw or weakness to create within us a need for him. If we were perfect we would have no need of God. I am beginning to realize that my imperfections are not to be despised but rather embraced as a “love gift” from my Creator.
God knows our weakness and the struggles that we feel within. When we ask God for his wisdom he immediately goes to work in our behalf without finding fault. God wants to change our character from the inside out. He often does this through our brokenness. The process of becoming free of our bondage can be long. I suspect that it may have to do with our trust, obedience, or perhaps acceptance of our circumstance. Asking for wisdom is a “holy process” that may walk us thought many steps. In every situation, when the process is complete we will experience God’s inner peace regardless of the outcome.
I must learn not to confuse answers and direction with wisdom. Sometimes we ask why, but God says, “Do not beg for answers that are my secrets. Don’t seek to know what you are not meant to understand. This life is full of secrets that belong to me alone. On the other hand I am more than willing to give you wisdom. When you know that I am the way, that is true wisdom. When I see that you trust me with the unknown, I will open my doors of direction for you without you even asking. In fact you will be totally surprised because it will be different than anything you could have ever hoped to ask for. That is one way that you will know that the open door is from me and not of your own effort. It is not your job to try to discover my will for your life but rather to stay alert, remain in me daily, listen for my gentle whisper, and stay calm as you wait. It is my job to reveal to you my will, my plan at just the right moment in time. I will do this for you.”
I have come to realize that I am wisdom deficient! Learning how God thinks is a lifelong process, yet it is the key to wisdom. This year as I read God’s Word, I want to look for how Jesus’ responded to people and to difficult situations. I want to examine my own heart and see how different my responses are to his. I want to listen for God’s gentle whispers of wisdom telling me what he thinks about all that concerns me. I must remember, God gives His wisdom generously, without finding fault, because he loves us. True wisdom is seeing our situation from God’s perspective rather than the twisted, self-serving, perverted perspective of the world.
  1. Are you currently seeking God’s wisdom?
  2. Do you confuse answers and direction with wisdom?
  3. What do you think of the wisdom of  the world?
  4. Do you believe that true wisdom comes only from God?
  5. Can you see the benefit of knowing the mind of Christ?
  6. Do you agree that true wisdom is seeing your situation from God’s perspective?

Dear Lord,
When I see conflict, you see an opportunity for me to embrace your peace. When I see stress in my life, you see a chance to call me to come and rest in your love. When I am confused, you call me to solitude so that I might hear your voice and find your wisdom. When I see failure in my life, you know my heart’s desire is to climb higher with you. When I have a pity party, you call me to gratitude. When I feel fearful, you call me to praise and worship, for it is in the knowledge of your attributes that I receive the courage to trust you. When I allow myself to slip into negative thinking, you see it as an opportunity to teach me about hope. When I become stressful because of lack of finances, you see this as an opportunity to bring glory to yourself if I will but trust you for your provision. When I find that I am on overload, you use my frustration as an opportunity to call me to simplicity. When I become irritated with others, you see how this can be used to teach me about compassion, mercy, and grace. When I see failing health, you will remind me that I am walking toward my heavenly home. Oh Lord Jesus, how I want to know your thoughts. How I desire to learn to take my thoughts captive one thought at a time. I am so happy that my first thought does not have to be my last thought. There is absolutely no wisdom in this world because the world twists truth and sells it as a superior commodity designed to stamp out your divine truth. Wisdom comes only from above. Wisdom discerns the truth. Wisdom is knowing that you see our problems as opportunities. Lord, remind me daily that my weaknesses are your way of showing me how much I need you. When I walk in that truth I am wise. I thank you that you have promised to give wisdom generously to all who ask and you give it without finding fault to those who put their trust and hope in you. 

It is in your name I pray. Amen.