A garland of grace for your head (Prov. 1:9).
Over the last couple of weeks I had a translation deadline that forced me to ignore simple pleasures like checking my emails or posting comments on various things that were happening in the lives of friends and family. Once when I began a posting, my computer went beserk and so I went on to other activities, only to discover two days later that that unfinished comment “graced” my timeline and several people “answered” my unfinished incomplete non-thought. Talking to a friend, I had affirmed that one of the reasons we are involved in Christian counseling is that we have seen and felt more than skin-deep the need for wisdom in the body of believers who so often set off for “ministry” with the best of intentions but total lack of wisdom in practical life, even though they (we) believe the Word of God and serve the living Word with heart and mind. The Bible is full of guidelines for our path, from Genesis to Revelation. This early morning I made a pit-stop at an old favorite, Proverbs, whose God-breathed words of wisdom were collected by the wisest of men who was a total fool when it came to marriage and involvement with the idols of his culture.
The introduction delineates the raison d’etre for the book that at first glance seems to be a potpourri of antithetical sayings: attaining wisdom and discipline;  understanding words of insight; for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the young. When I mentioned to the friend my desire to help women in ministry deal with their being as redeemed Christians with fallen worldviews in a decadent world, I felt guilty of being like a blind person trying to lead the blind. I am certainly no better than the women and men we have observed over the years – stumbling, bungling, banging their heads and breaking their hearts while trying to love God over all and love their (our) neighbor as (our) themselves (Matthew 22:36-39 rehashing Deuteronomy 6:5).
If we deem ourselves wise, we must learn to listen and add to our learning (Prov. 1:5), and if discerning, get further guidance for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise. It’s not the understanding of ancient clichés, though the name of the game is “proverbs, parables, sayings and riddles of the wise”. It starts with the fear of the LORD –without which we will fear what man can do to us, fear our very stepping into the arena of true knowledge. This fear of the Lord goes with us at every stage of life – unless we are fools enough to despise wisdom and discipline.
Fear of the Lord touches even on our ambivalence to our forefather’s instructions: though our memory listens to the instruction and teaching of our father and mother, we often forget the garland of grace for our head and chain for our neck – we remember instead the goads to our self-esteem and fear they instilled on “what will other people think?”
In a way I was a Christian “flowerchild” wearing a crown of daisies and wishing a gold necklace of rubies, but too often I neglected Peter’s reminder that:
           His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness
            through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
           Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises,
           so that through them you may participate in the divine nature
           and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
           For this very reason, make every effort
           to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;
          and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance;
          and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness,
          brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.
          For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure,
          they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive
          in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
          But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind,
          and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.
          Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager
           to make your calling and election sure.
          For if you do these things, you will never fall,
          and you will receive a rich welcome
          into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
          So I will always remind you of these things,
          even though you know them and
          are firmly established in the truth you now have.
          I think it is right to refresh your memory
          as long as I live in the tent of this body,
 Often I forget that wisdom calls out from the streets and plazas of life and think that “nobody knows anything worth knowing.” But they do! Somebody does! He says: “If you had listened to my rebuke I would have poured out my heart to you and made my thoughts known to you...” (Prov. 1:23). I remember the lament of Wisdom Incarnate over Jerusalem: “How often I would have gathered you under my wings...”
God’s wisdom is not an intellectual assent – it is essentially a conjunction of mind, heart, gut feelings and action. From the injunctions to the Law in Deuteronomy (see, for example, Deut. 32:47: They are not just idle words for you-- they are your life. By them you will live long in the land...”) to the petrine, joannine and pauline injunctions to Christian living (example: Eph 1:17-18). Every son of Adam or Daughter of Eve is admonished in Proverbs 7:1-4 to use wisdom as safeguard for moral purity:
           Keep my words and store up my commands within you.
           Keep my commands and you will live;
(Living according to God’s word is a matter of life and death!)
           guard my teachings as the apple of your eye.
(Look at God’s teachings as the most precious of gifts)
           Bind them on your fingers;
(That is why my fingers, though sluggish, are anxious to write!)
           write them on the tablet of your heart
(this tablet is affectionate and written in living stone).
           Say to wisdom, "You are my sister,"
           and call understanding your kinsman
(if I want to be keen in wisdom I must make Wisdom my kin!)
The story of Wisdom began in eternity, and the Proverbs narrative (7-8) reminds one of what John narrates in the beginning of the Gospel when the Logos became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and glory (and sends us back to the beginning of time narrated by Moses in Genesis one). The entire story of learning and understanding from God in love which encircles and inspires (in spirals of involvement from the Lord of Life to human creature created in his image) is a true story that gives hope for me and any other person who realizes we have only begun to scratch the surface of learning – but He promises that we will know Him! That will be sufficient to learn and proceed to know throughout eternity!
Elizabeth Gomes

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