On a clear day, nightfall at Inesi is a dramatic time. The horizon swirls with shades of pink, darkening to the colour of a ripe pomegranate, struck through with purple, gold and burnished copper. I pull my shawl tighter around my shoulders, drink it in a bit longer, and then move back inside to light the fire. Through my window, the mountains seem to glow, then soften and darken, often to disappear completely under a cloudy veil. Now is the time of the night creatures. Crickets take over from robins, bats flit while the ibises announce the time to roost. When rain is on the way, we hear the frogs sing, and as a rare, eerie treat; the hoot of an owl....
Owls function extremely well at night, and their ability to see in the dark has, in some cultures, elevated them to manifestations of wisdom. We see them more as studious scholars, wise elders. You remember the old rhyme:
A wise old owl lived in an oak
The more he saw the less he spoke
The less he spoke the more he heard.
Why can't we all be like that wise old bird?
Sadly, it seems to be just the opposite of what the world tends to do. The more we learn (and see), the more we speak, the more we speak the less we hear. Hear when God speaks through His Spirit, shouts out in nature, shines through a child's eyes. The psalmist takes it a level further in Psalm 111:10, the motto of the wisdom teachers, and the theme of Proverbs: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom". Fear, in this instance meaning: reverence for God expressed in submission to His will. This is the "beginning", the starting point and essence of wisdom. Job uses the same expression in his last reply to his friends, when challenged concerning his unfailing reverence to God in the face of severe testing.
In James 3 from verse 13 we read about two kinds of wisdom. "If you harbour bitter envy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such wisdom does not come from heaven, but is earthly, unspiritual, from the devil". In contrast to this, verse 17 says: "The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure, then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Tall order?
I have a nasty tendency toward wanting to be at the helm of the ship. To see what's coming, in control, in the know... Eve also desired wisdom, and that beguiling fruit, in all its juicy ripeness, would give her just that. Or so she was promised. She may have been tempted, but she deceived herself, and fell, with all the dreadful consequences that followed.
1 Kings 4:29 tells how God gave Solomon wisdom and insight and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore... He did not obtain a Master's degree at the prestigious Jerusalem College of Knowledge - he received it; "for free". Why? For he feared/revered God with all his heart. When God told him in a dream, that he could ask for whatever he wanted, the twenty year old king said: "...give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to know right from wrong". I wonder what I would have asked for...
This message is pure balm for my soul. Some days when I'm reading to our boys about Gruffaloes and Pirats, or crawling around the floor as a stand-in steed (mare?) for the little princes, I wonder... Conversing with toddlers can vary from being hugely entertaining to downright exasperating. Keeping their hungry minds stimulated and their busy bodies out of trouble, is fun but draining. So I wonder, where does that leave the "other me", when Mama bear is most in demand? Safe in the arms of Jesus, thank God! So tomorrow morning, in those precious moments when I spend time with my heavenly Father, I can open his living Word, bow my head and ask for Godly wisdom, discernment and most of all; His peace that surpasses all understanding. And know, that as long as I remain in Him, it will come, and I will never run the risk of becoming "stale or dull" in my journey as His daughter, as well as being wife and mother.
John the Baptist says these surprising words to the church of Corinth: Christ did not send me to baptise, but to preach the gospel, not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross be emptied of its power! That is quite a bit to digest. Writing this blog has been such a challenge. I, would love to write prose, be witty, sharp and tender all at once. But that would rob the cross of its impact. So, by grace, I hope to write only what God presses on my heart. I run the risk of loosing some readers along the way, maybe even a friend, but the risk at the other end of the scale, tips it towards the truth of the gospel every time.
I thought it best to let the wisdom of Solomon bring this to a close:
"My son (daughter), if you accept my words, and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight, and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure; then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding..."