In Search of Wisdom
For the past four years I have written a post near the end of each year as a means of preserving events, people, and experiences that have had a significant impact on my life. I have found this little tradition to be especially beneficial to my own reflection on the closing year and also share a bit about what I have learned and what I am thankful for. Instead of doing something similar to the posts I have written in the past, I felt that I would go in a different direction and emphasize a particular theme that seemed especially significant throughout the majority of the year. That being said, I hope you first of all, enjoy what I have written, and secondly, are able to take away something that will benefit your life and the lives of those around you.
With maturity the individual is granted the ability to apply the wisdom and knowledge one has accumulated over the course of his or her life to directly influence their own life and the lives of those we encounter. Throughout the majority of the past year I have begun to realize the true importance of not only learning wisdom and knowledge but also putting it into practice. While knowledge may be contained within the tattered bindings of books on dusty shelves, or in the dry monotone of a lecturer, wisdom is the process of taking that knowledge and appropriately putting it into effect in our lives. It is in this understanding of wisdom and knowledge that I have begun to pay special attention not only to what I was learning, but how I would enact what I was learning. With that in mind, I give to you my list of wisdom and knowledge that has had a significant impact on my life during the past year. Take what you will from it but understand that this list is purely subjective and reflective of my own personal experiences.
1. Hard work is sanctifying and necessary for growth.
Rarely do the best results come from taking the easiest measures. When in life we are given the choice between doing something because it is easy or doing something because it is difficult it is my hope that you will choose to do that which requires the most effort. In recent years, our culture (and my generation especially) has grown fearful of work that is demanding, difficult, and thankless. We desire to be recognized and affirmed for mediocre work without the fear of losing an extra hour of sleep during the week. Scarcely does the feeling of true accomplishment present itself because we have never even given ourselves the opportunity to attain it. Do not fear difficult work, fear missing the opportunity to reap of the harvest it provides.
2. Friendships and relationships that lack differences in opinion are not nearly as beneficial as those that possess them.
It is in debate amongst a close group of friends that true growth will most likely occur concerning difficult subjects and issues. If there is no iron with which one may be sharpened, how well-equipped is that iron for its intended use? Will a dull sword prove effective in battle? It is an understanding of openness and acceptance that provides friends with the ability to speak their mind without fear of being cast aside or chastised. In this environment, true dialogue will take place and those involved will ultimately benefit from it.
3. The objects, people, and desires we once regarded as important may prove to not be as important as we once believed.
It is a bleak realization, but one must face it with confidence, because the fact of the matter is: people change and we ourselves change. With discernment we must take the time to look at our lives and figure out what is most important to us, be it people, our future endeavors, or how we use our resources. Having examined these areas of our lives, in addition to contemplation on our pasts, we must make the decision to specify that which is crucial to life and that which must be severed.
4. Growth is possible only when one understands that there exists an area of life that is lacking.
To desire growth and maturity is to recognize our imperfections and seek change as a means of bettering ourselves. It is in this realization that we come to the conclusion that we are flawed people in need of a change.
5. This life is not worth living apart from Jesus.
What is it that we are striving for? Do we set course for an "ignorance is bliss" way of life or are the sails directed for a life of purpose? If you recognize your humanity you cannot doubt that something is missing, that this world is lacking in some sense. As we pay mind to our exterior environment we are inevitably led to inspect our interior conditions. We permeate the depths of our minds, questioning why we are not satisfied, why we lack true happiness despite everything added up giving us the impression of gratification.
And yet we remain, unsatisfied.
I have sought prominence, preeminence, riches, and most of all, acceptance, but have yet to find satisfaction in them. The desires which this world finds so important have no place in the life of the Christ follower. We must look at the example of the incarnate Jesus and his life to see how we ought to live.
Prominence: Jesus came to the earth as a servant, not donning a crown of gold but a crown of thorns. In His example we are expected to follow and sacrifice ourselves as servants.
Preeminence: "The last will be first and the first will be last" are the words Jesus spoke in the parable of the laborers in the vineyard in Matthew 20:1-16. He said this as a reminder to his disciples that life is not measured in our works or our material goods. Instead we must focus on serving God with all that we are simply because of the grace He has given to us.
Riches: Jesus lived an impoverished life wholly dedicated to the Father. While material things and wealth are not inherently wicked or evil, when they become our god and the reason we live, we detract the glory God is worthy of and give it to temporary trinkets. A life characterized by following Jesus will use that which we have been given to glorify God.
Acceptance: We spend so much time seeking the approval of people that really hold no eternal significance. We want to be liked, known, loved, and accepted by people that are searching for the same thing. Thinking this out logically, is it best to find love in someone that does not know how to love? Or be accepted by someone who themselves is not accepted? In Christ this true acceptance and love can be realized.
Think what you may about religion and all that people unfortunately get hung up on concerning religion, but consider for yourself your own life, your own difficulties, your own imperfections, and your own emptiness. Do you desire to know and be known with the fullness of intimacy? Do you want to experience true satisfaction? It is only found in Him. Apart from Him there is no purpose, there is no value, and there is no wisdom.