June 28, 2005

Wisdom from the Back of My Yearbook

Wisdom is what's left after we've run out of personal opinions. - Cullen Hightower

Blast from the Past
I ran in to a girl I went to high school with today at the mall. It's been over a decade (just how long I will leave to your imagination), so it took me completely off-guard. It was nice to see a face from the past. It reminded me of the journey I've been on and how far I've come on it. When I got home, I got out my yearbook. Don't ask me why. I have very few friends left from those days. I moved away from my home town before my senior year, married my husband and stayed away... so all the friends from those days faded away as the years went by.

The Folly of Youth
As I looked at the faces and read some of the wit and logic left in the back of my yearbook by my classmates, I began to see that the wisdom we thought we all had when we were young is not the same thing as the wisdom I pursue today! I have heard it said that youth is wasted on the young... and that may be just about right!

"Youth is a wonderful thing. What a crime to waste it on children." - George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950)

To cut my classmates some slack, I am sure what I wrote in their yearbooks is far less enlightening. I thought, for humor's sake that I would share a few of the finest morsels of insight I was entrusted with. Of course, I have left out a few that were sweet and encouraging (can't find any fault in that!) - I say this to redeem the rest of our graduating class!

People should not die routinely. - N

I love weirdness. - C

Party! Have fun & don't do anything I wouldn't do. - Michelle

Dude! You're tres cool! Pretty gay yearbook, hu? - Kris

I hate Cindy!!! Well, this is really a blast and I don't want to excite myself too
much. Love ya,

Live and let live! And always party for the moment! Later Tater - Debbie

Keep cool. Roses are red, violets are blue, I got brown hair and so do you. - Melissa

METALLICA! - Brandon

Be yourself and don't listen to other people. They are just jealous toads. - Iggy

I wish I weren't so poor and pathetic so I could have a yearbook and you could
sign it.
- Cathy

Save the airheads! - Jen

And by far, my favorite:

Every year a mass of swirling lives take places in a civilized world where they are lost. Our friendship has endured what humans can not. Our souls are meshed. Victory or death! Remember that year when Tina, Natalie, Patricia, you and me went to the mall and were all depressed because we didn't have boyfriends? That was so hilarious. Don't get freezed in the frozer. Moe died. If you were me, I would have been institutionalized a long time ago. - Karen

Carpe Diem
Some of the best advice from those yearbook days is that "life is short". That's something I am keenly aware of as a homeschooling mother. Time passes all too quickly. My babies are already almost ten years old, and there's only about ten years left before they are fully-functioning, independent thinkers. Granted, they may hang around (hopefully) into their young-adult years at home while they continue higher education, but their personalities, dreams, desires, gifts, and souls will be forged by then. Am I ready? Am I leading them faithfully toward the goal of who I want them to become? Psalm 90:12 says "Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." Numbering our days tells us that there will be an end to them. We are on a cosmic time-limit... and the eternal clock is ticking away.

Am I making the most of these days I have been given? This question hits home like a brick on the forehead lately. As the planning season begins for the next school year, and as our lives are turned upside down with a pending move to another city, I've been wanting to get a more concrete grasp on what direction we need to head. What are our goals? What is the big picture? The last few years, it has seemed as if God has continually pulled the rug out from under us every time we tried to settle in. I'm tired of wandering - like the Israelites in the desert -I want to plant some roots - in the right soil. I want to quit learning the hard lessons and start building on them. I want to have wisdom from all of these experiences that will guide our future endeavors. I want to build my kids - not just their minds, but their souls as well. When all is blown away in the end, I want to make sure that the RIGHT kind of wisdom is found in them.

Two Kinds of Wisdom
The bible says there is a kind of wisdom that is actually foolishness. Jeremiah 8:9 says - "The wise will be put to shame; they will be dismayed and trapped. Since they have rejected the word of the LORD, what kind of wisdom do they have?" That's the same question I ask of myself today. What kind of wisdom am I imparting? Is it a worldly wisdom? If so, God says that kind of wisdom will disappear one day, and it is fruitless.

Isaiah 29:14 - "Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish."

1 Corinthians 1:20 - "Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?"

I mean, think about it... I know lots of people are out there with degrees from Harvard, Oxford or Berkeley who believe we came from apes! I may not be a molecular biologist, but I know my great grandpa wasn't primordial soup. I also know some politicians who have managed to gain the prestige and following to make it to a "high office" in the United States Government, who can speak on live television without breaking a sweat... and yet are professed Socialists.

Even the devil has wisdom. In Ezekiel 28, the Lord gives a lament concerning the King of Tyre - a passage that could only have been written about the devil himself. He says that the devil was in Eden, and God had made him "full of wisdom and perfect in beauty". It says that the devil was blameless until wickedness was found in him and he sinned, and that he became proud because of his beauty and corrupt because of his wisdom and splendor.

Got Wisdom?
We all desire to have wisdom (although some people leave you to wonder if this statement is broad enough). We don't want to be labeled as a fool. We don't want our kids to grow up to be vagrants or criminals. We want our kids to remember us as good parents who taught them good things. But do we all turn to the right places - seek out the right sources - when we are looking for wisdom? The latest self help books are only as good as the theology behind them. The source of every good and perfect thing is the Lord who made everything. The Bible tells us in Luke 7:35,"But wisdom is proved right by all her children." Our kids are learning every day from us - whether it is the right kind of knowledge and wisdom or not, they are learning. In the Psalms, we find a wealth of blessings that are promised to those who obtain godly wisdom; respect from others, prosperity, and power are only a few. The right kind of wisdom can even give you a face lift! Ecclesiastes 8:1 - "Who is like the wise man? Who knows the explanation of things? Wisdom brightens a man's face and changes its hard appearance." Move over botox!

On the other hand, if I fail to gain godly wisdom or to impart it to my kids, I and they could suffer the kinds of curses listed within those same passages in Psalms: madness, folly, the rod of correction. So I asked myself, "What kind of wisdom am I imparting to my kids and others?"

Smarty Pants
Where do I get wisdom? Well, that's a no-brainer. God gives wisdom. He created the universe and everything in it. He made us and numbered our hairs. He wants us to have His blessings (wisdom included). Proverbs 2:6 tells us "For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding" and James 1:5 says "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".

So is it that easy? Well, yes and no. After we get godly wisdom we must LIVE it. Living it is the hard part. James 3:3 says "Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom." There seems to be a theme that links these two words: humility and wisdom. Proverbs 11:2 says - "When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom." Wasn't the devil scolded for his pride in himself that turned to self-worship (and ultimately wanting to be God)?

hu·mil·i·ty n. The quality or condition of being humble.

hum·ble adj. (hum·bler, hum·blest)
1. Marked by meekness or modesty in behavior, attitude, or spirit; not arrogant or prideful.
2. Showing deferential or submissive respect: a humble apology.
3. Low in rank, quality, or station; unpretentious or lowly: a humble cottage.

hum·bled, hum·bling, hum·bles
To curtail or destroy the pride of; humiliate. To cause to be meek or modest in spirit. To give a lower condition or station to; abase. See Synonyms at degrade.

So if wisdom comes from humility, the act of being humble (meek, modest, respectful, submissive, and unpretentious), then I guess the obvious conclusion is that the experiences in life that are the most humbling are those that are working in us to bring us wisdom. Wow. What a great lesson. I guess I'm on my way to becoming a spiritual genius (read my previous posts to figure out why).

The Purpose of Wisdom
Now, assuming we've got some wisdom, what is it for? What do we do with it? How can we use it? God's Word clearly states that it is given to us to lead others to God (Daniel 12:3 - "Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever"). We are supposed to...

  • Share what we are given

  • Go and tell the world.

  • Shout it from the mountain tops.

  • Give the reason for our hope.

  • Let others see it in our lives.

So that is the real question here - "Is everything I do and say leading others to Christ?"

The Bad News
Having godly wisdom doesn't always prevent you from your own stupidity. We all can fall down. Part of our falling down is learning the lessons we need to prevent it from happening again. King Solomon was labeled in the Bible as having "wisdom and very great insight", and a "breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore", yet he was not infallible. He was also credited for falling prey to his lusts and turning away from God. His entire nation for many generations were ensnared by the idols he built to foreign gods on the Hill of Corruption, East of Jerusalem (2 Kings 23:13). There is no magic pill for a life without any mistakes, but I am sure we will make less of them if we obtain godly wisdom now. Fearing the Lord is only the beginning of wisdom. Getting it is just the starting point.

Is wisdom a rose garden we've been promised? No. Will it keep my bank account from going negative or my body from getting sick? Not always. We can make wise choices in those areas, but we can't know the future or prevent life from happening. Jesus was wise (Matthew 12:42 says he was "greater than Solomon") and yet he was persecuted and killed. While we may gain the respect of some after we attain wisdom from God, we - just like Jesus - may also loose some friends. Just because we have "wisdom the world can't contradict" as stated in Luke 21:15, doesn't mean that one day, we also, will not have to face persecution or death. Yet without the true wisdom that God desires to give us, once on the other side of our last breath, there is no more time left. I shudder to think of where we will be if we fail to get it. I think all of us know what God has in store for those without it - or at least we have heard the warnings. It is a place where all the wisdom of the world fails us. It is a place where eternity is met with only regret and agony.

I want to make sure I use God's wisdom wisely and teach it to my kids. It truly is the greatest treasure on earth.


MommaKnows said...

LOL! You and I went to different schools together, and the same friends signed my yearbook too! :) Amazing the wisdom we possess when we're 17, compared with the wisdom we get from LIFE and the Lord after that point in our lives. I haven't looked at my yearbooks in years, but one signature sticks with me, as it always struck me as funny. "HI Hippie! Cliff always called you hippie cuz your that girl from California. In honor of Cliff, you'll always be Hippie." I smile because I remember being that new California girl, transplanted to Juneau Alaska, and nicknamed Hippie on my first day of class. If they only knew where my life has led me since high school... Don't you just wonder what happened to some people, especially the ones who (like me) were SO FAR from God when you knew them?

Sprittibee said...

Thanks Mommaknows. This is one of my really old posts, but I needed to hear it again. Nearly two years later I am finally hoping to be on my way home to Texas after a long "lesson" in humility. Hopefully I've gained a little wisdom along the way so I won't have to go back and learn it again. ;)

Isaiah5513 said...

I never bought a high school yearbook. I did not want to "look back" when I got old. Besides, I am still friends with a lot of my friends from school Most of them are Christians now. We might have hung out. I was pretty mean to other girls, so maybe not.

The last two weeks the Lord has been trying to show me the difference between perfectionism and being perfected and the difference between knowledge and wisdom. We don't have to stop at knowledge. In fact we are supposed to move on to wisdom. Which I think of as correctly applied knowledge.

Well, I've written a post in your comments section.
You did an outstanding job on the carnival. I must go round up the boys, now.

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