Posts Tagged ‘foolishness’

listeningWhat does it mean to listen to God?

I will listen to what God the Lord says;
    he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants [saints]—
    but let them not [re]turn to folly. [Psalm 85:8, NIV, 2010 with words inserted from 1984 version]

When I was in acting school, we used to have a teacher who tried to teach us how to center down into ourselves, to experience “constructive rest,” to align our bodies, to know “neutral” in ourselves. Much of that time was spent on the floor and breathing. At the time, I was simply too immature to appreciate what she was trying to accomplish. One of her exercises required us to listen: to listen to the sounds outside the room, then inside the room, and then inside our bodies. In a way, this is technique that can also be used to settle the mind down in preparation to listen to God. It’s pretty hard to listen to God while being busy doing other things. [Unless anyone has cultivated the habits of Brother Lawrence, and his Practice of the Presence of God.]

But I believe, more than anything else, that the heart must be prepared to hear before listening will occur. It is up to me to establish that environment, like preparing garden soil to be sown. I can help this preparation of the heart along by reading or singing or breathing.

In this process, I should also know the subject matter. In other words, I believe the most productive listening is done when focused on a situation or topic or question. (And I don’t mean a yes or no question, but a more open-ended one, that allows room for God to expand the answer.) But here is the vital key: I must be at my wit’s end, so to speak. If I really want my heart to be open to the voice of God, then I must know that my resources have been expended, my “way” has not worked, my solutions have been exhausted.

surrenderOtherwise, I think my very human tendency, once I “hear” God’s response, is to compare it to all the other answers out there. It’s not the way God works. If I am truly coming to the God of the Universe for help and illumination, then I can’t treat the answer as though God is simply weighing in on the possibilities like another girlfriend at a kaffeeklatsch.

Do not, then, go to God lightly. For in the breadth of this one verse, Psalm 85:8, there is a warning about returning to our folly (our own way). To ask God, the Holy Spirit, to help and then to choose another way, is, indeed foolishness.

In the older 1984 NIV version, the translation reads that God promises peace to his saints. In later years, this term has been replaced with culture friendly phrases like “faithful servants” or “the holy people He loves.” We are adverse to calling ourselves saints and yet I know it’s not a word to be taken lightly, it is the one that speaks of total surrender to the Christ. A saint is totally sold out to God. A saint hears God and listens and then acts upon the information.

Clearly, the opposite of a saint is a fool.

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Photo by P Dorowski

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m pretty clear that my wisdom quotient (WQ) is way below my IQ. Doesn’t everyone need more wisdom? Is there such a thing as too wise? Don’t think so.

James 1:5
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

So, why don’t I ask for wisdom every day? There are so many things I put before my God: guidance, help, protection, transformation, and so on. But I don’t specifically ask for wisdom. Wouldn’t that particular answered prayer help with all the other ones? Doh!

Based on James, God doesn’t find fault or hold back wisdom in the face of our mistakes. God doesn’t say, “No wisdom for you today, you’ve made too many mistakes.” There’s a lot of grace, then, in the gift of wisdom. It’s a helper, just like Eve was intended to be in the first story about men and women.

I’ve often wondered if Solomon was disappointed with his gift of wisdom and simply stopped using it? I mean, how else does a person go from doing everything right to accumulating so many women (700 wives & 300 concubines) and so much stuff that he finally tears the kingdom in two by the time of his death. Clearly, his WQ hit rock bottom by then.

I’m wondering today, is wisdom a like Manna? Does it have to be refreshed each day, given each day anew, or it becomes corrupt if someone tries to hold on to it beyond the time, the moment, the day?

I could really use some wisdom just to get through this night. And tomorrow, I think I’ll check in on the wisdom handout again. Thank you God.

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Wisdom is the interpretation and application of knowledge. Foolishness is the inability to do either one with knowledge. When I am acting foolishly, I am not thinking clearly or considering future consequences or outcomes. Worse, I am acting selfishly–which is never wise.

I Corinthians 1:21
For when the world with all its earthly wisdom failed to perceive and recognize and know God by means of its own philosophy, God in His wisdom was pleased through the foolishness of preaching [salvation, procured by Christ and to be had through Him], to save those who believed (who clung to and trusted in and relied on Him).

According to James 1:5, wisdom is a gift while foolishness is nothing more than human frailty (the default).

With wisdom, we can adapt to change, we can process struggle, we can build on mistakes.

Why wouldn’t everyone want wisdom? Why don’t we ask for wisdom every day? Why don’t seek wisdom? Why don’t we hunger and thirst for wisdom?

Why don’t I?

The first Bible study I started was on wisdom. I learned so much during that time, but I didn’t use that information wisely (how ironic). I didn’t build on the foundation.

I think there are a lot of building blocks that are set in place throughout our lives but we don’t take advantage of them. Many experiences in my life came to an unworthy demise: relationships (a family who loved me in Germany during a student exchange, friends from high school, friends from college, friends from Chicago, friends from Atlanta, friends from New York — all lost to me); skills (playing guitar, speaking German or sign language, playing piano); and creative pursuits (plays, articles, and stories I have written, ideas lost, crafts started and stalled). I responded to all of these events foolishly.

Wisdom would have integrated my events, people and experiences into a wholeness that continues to elude me after all these years.

But here’s the good news. Wisdom is unconcerned about my age or place in time. Wisdom is still here to lift me up. Wisdom is my sister. “Wisdom calls aloud in the street . . . [Proverbs 1:5a]. She is patient, like her other selves in God. She is willing to take me with her. She is here now

Come sweet sister and manifest in me this day.

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