Week of Oct 9: There is power, not weakness, in the quietness of wisdom
By VICKY BRANTLEY
God teach me enough wisdom to know I need you more than anything else. Amen.
We are often encumbered with ideas that more and bigger are better. Our children or grandchildren feel they must have a new backpack: bigger, brighter and better than last year’s model, even if it is still usable. Our strained economic times may be forcing us to take a different view of what is essential and what is desirous. If you have been on a mission trip or seen pictures of children in remote areas of our world, one thing is almost always consistent. Unless they are suffering from disease and starvation, their faces are bright and shining and full of hope. There are always reports of how grateful the children are for notebook paper or crayons or pencils, all four for a dollar at the discount store, but unspeakable treasures when you have nothing. God’s wisdom helps us to know what is important.
Wisdom wins the day
The writer of Ecclesiastes shares counsel, almost in parable form, teaching that even though great siege is impressive and often passionate, it is wisdom that saves the people. Wisdom is noble work, but the wise are seldom notable. Yet they are almost always transformative for those who trust their words.
The famous inventor Samuel Morse was once asked if he ever encountered situations when he didn't know what to do. Morse responded, "More than once, and whenever I could not see my way clearly, I knelt down and prayed to God for light and understanding.” Morse received many honors from his invention of the telegraph but felt undeserving: "I have made a valuable application of electricity not because I was superior to other men, but solely because God, who meant it for mankind, must reveal it to someone and He was pleased to reveal it to me."
God does not want us to simply say, “God is the top priority in my life.” God wants to set the priorities in our life. When we are willing to do that, we will find a set of values vastly different from the world’s standards.
Wisdom is seldom a famous route
Sometimes the wisest people are thought of as weak or ineffective, because their words are most often the softest in the midst of the clamor of advice and persuasion with which we are surrounded today. The measure is what’s left in the aftermath. If the most decisive battle stops the enemy in his tracks, the question remains: is he still our enemy in the end? If our end is peace or community rather than domination, wisdom always wins. We pray for peace and for those who are in harm’s way in the name of peace, but we must also live as peacemakers when we are far from the front lines. While it is not likely as long as politicians want to make a name for themselves, how refreshing it would be if all our leaders would set aside party politics and lead in ways that promote the recovery of our economy so that we could be in a healthy position to do all the good we can do, without all the zeroes built into the price tag.
The boxer Muhammad Ali was known as "the champ," arguably the most famous athlete of his generation. He was on top, and his entourage of trainers and various helpers shared the adulation with him. But the party ended, leaving many of Ali's loyal followers disillusioned -- and in some cases, destitute. Ali himself, now halting in speech and uncertain in movement, says, "I had the world, and it wasn't nothin'."
Wisdom is not weakness
Great rulers with all the material and political wealth and success are quick to reveal the emptiness of an empire. There is great strength in that awareness. Our families, churches, communities and our nation should listen to the quiet words of God’s wisdom rather than the shouting of foolish words at either extreme.
If your car needed multiple repairs right now, you would not take it to a shop that promised to make a career of repairing it. We need leaders who seek to do what is right and just and not those who are forever guarding against being unpopular. It takes courage to stand up for what is right. World War I Medal of Honor recipient Eddie Rickenbacker said, “Courage is doing what you're afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you're scared.” A person who calls himself frank and candid can very easily find himself becoming tactless and cruel. A person who prides himself on being tactful can find eventually that he has become evasive and deceitful. A person with firm convictions can become pigheaded. A person who is inclined to be temperate and judicious can sometimes turn into someone with weak convictions and banked fires of resolution. Loyalty can lead to fanaticism. Caution can become timidity. Freedom can become license. Confidence can become arrogance. Humility can become servility. All these are ways in which strength can become weakness. Wisdom is not weakness. Wisdom is the power to see and the inclination to choose the best and highest goal, together with the surest means of attaining it.
Take Action: Who is the quietest person you know? Ask that person for words of wisdom and become their spokesperson this week.
“Open my eyes that I may see glimpses of truth thou hast for me.” The United Methodist Hymnal #454