Who is like the wise man? Who knows the explanation of things? Wisdom brightens a man’s face and changes its hard appearance. Ecclesiastes 8, verse 1.
Welcome back! I hope you’re having a radically great day! I took a few days off after concluding chapter seven. To be honest, I needed some time away. Read back on the words and you’ll see I was getting a little sideways, a bit ragged around the edges. We all get like that, now and then, when we keep adding to our daily to-do lists and forget to pay attention to the things that matter most. One of the last things I mentioned in that previous post was about how my son and I enjoy “The Walking Dead” (which, by the way, premieres season three next week!). After a few busy months, I felt a little like a zombie.
And at the start of what promises to be a very busy season, thanks to a few days away, I feel a bit less zombie-like. I’ve been blessed with four extremely productive and successful weeks at my client in Minnesota. Last weekend, I met my wife in Washington where we attended my niece’s wedding and had the best time we’ve had in years. To make that happen, I rented a car and drove 5100 miles round trip, seeing family on the way and enjoying the glory of God’s changing autumn colors. And just yesterday we had a family day at Chez Terry, with church, family pictures (that turned out GREAT), and a steak dinner with the people I love most.
Who’s to thank for all these wonderful things? Me, because I made that really long drive? My family, because they took time to all come together? My wife, because she’s the most patient person I know? Or God? Yep. You know the answer.
My ego would love for you to massage it and pile on all kinds of kind words, accolades, and ‘good for you’s.’ That would make you look obsequious and me small, however. I’m not wise. I can’t explain much. The real truth of saying all these things is that it really isn’t about me. In fact, it isn’t about me at all. It’s about God. God in Christ; three in one; Alpha and Omega and everything in-between.
When you realize that, your face can be changed. What does that really mean? Well…
…you’ve known people with a hard edge, haven’t you? There are folks in your life who are tough. Experience, time, outlook, life have made them tough on the outside. They’re like weathered stone: a bit smoothed around the edges but still rock hard, cold and heavy. It’s a generalization, but I think that choices have made them that way, most of those choices being bad ones, unwise ones. It’s not your fault if an meteor hits your house, a car runs over your dog, or some other kind of terrible thing happens in your life. How you and I react to those things, though, is our responsibility. We can become bitter or we can let it build faith. You and I have both known too many people who have become bitter. While that bitterness is understandable, it’s also true that they own it. That in itself is a hard thing to say.
God can change that around. God’s knowledge is founded in his unending love, and his unending love is true justice and real wisdom. When I learned to see things through God’s wisdom, I learned that most important lesson: it’s not about me. I also learned that looking at things through His lenses makes them seem clearer, more in focus. I’m able to better discern what’s right and wrong and where He wants me to stick to the right. What’s more, when I do that wrong – and that’s way too often to duck – His wisdom brings me up short and demands an answer. God’s loving wisdom is justice, both when I have erred and when others have erred to me. When He changes things around, though, He doesn’t promise a rose garden. He promises Himself.
So I’m reading a book: Radical, by David Platt. If you like your church, if you feel glad for your faith, if you feel blessed and hopeful in what you know, and if you think you are channeled into God’s wisdom, I challenge you to read this book. Platt, a minister to a mega-church in Birmingham, Alabama, spends most of the book throwing acid on our conventional wisdom about church. His contention is that we’ve lost our understanding of the wisdom of God because we’ve thrown over His Son to make Him into something He isn’t. Platt isn’t negative; he isn’t mean: he is scathing and radically, brutally, Biblically honest about what it means to say “I believe in Jesus.” To follow Christ means to follow a radical, and to be a radical in the face of a world that will either beat you down for it or try to get you to turn from it (or both). Can you be a wise man, able to explain things and not have a cold, hard edge while professing to win souls for God? David Platt thinks so because that’s what the radical Christ did and does every day.
Coming back to write these verses after a few days away, that’s something I would like to keep in mind. I’d like to keep that idea of being radical in my profession no matter where it takes me or what it costs. I’ve been given so many blessings in my life and I’m thankful to be able to talk about them with you. The greatest of those blessings is the growing presence of God in my life, helping me to turn from the old ways and be hopeful in living today. As He helps me, He’s teaching me to not be a walking zombie, but instead to be a radical witness. Where this takes me, I really don’t know. I simply trust that it is the wise course to follow and that all the stops along the way will be memorable.