David C. Hughes, Writer

“For the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your JOY will be complete." –Deuteronomy 16:15

Archive for the tag “Wisdom”

The Epiphany of Joy, Chapter 3: Joy in Wisdom [2 of 2]

The writer of the Book of Wisdom described her this way:

Wisdom is radiant and unfading,

and she is easily discerned by those

     who love her,

and is found by those who seek her.

She hastens to make herself known to

     those who desire her.

One who rises early to seek her will

     have no difficulty,

for she will be found sitting at the 

     gate.

To fix one’s thought on her is perfect

     understanding,

and one who is vigilant on her account

     will soon be free from care,

because she goes about seeking those

     worthy of her,

and she graciously appears to them in

     their paths,

and meets them in every thought.

–Wisdom 6:12-16 (NRSVCE)

When God told me to write this book, my first reaction was one of surprise and disbelief: “Me?  Write a book about joy?”  But then my faith gear kicked in and I told God “Okay, this is Your deal.  I’m a conduit for Your Spirit to work through me: I’ll provide the fingers and the brain and the computer, but Your Spirit has to provide the rest.”  In other words, I needed wisdom to show up at my gate in a hurry so I could complete my Daddy’s assignment.  Later, while attending a Prayer Ministry training session at New River, Denise Bell, the Freedom Minister, prayed over me, and as she prayed she spoke a message to me: “You don’t have to learn before you put pen to paper,” she said.  “You can learn while putting pen to paper.  Whatever that means.”  What Denise didn’t know was I’d been spending a lot of time with my nose buried in texts, both divine and conventional, in an attempt to understand joy.  In this moment of prayer Wisdom hastened to make herself known to me, and she’s hung out with me throughout the entire adventure.  In fact, I’m constantly amazed when I revisit these chapters for honing and polishing and read something I could not have written on my own.  “She understands the turn of phrases and the solutions to riddles,” the author of the Book of Wisdom wrote in Wisdom 8:8b (NAB).  I continue to witness that truth first-hand, and it’s amazing!  It’s in those moments I realize God’s Spirit has been sitting here typing and whispering and enjoying this process right along with me.  As I’ve become vigilant to the Spirit’s presence, my cares and worries about accomplishing what God assigned me have diminished.  After all, I’ve got my very own Holy Ghost writer!

Once we acknowledge and respect God’s sovereignty, and after we’ve asked Him to bless us with His wisdom, He will make our paths clear and straight:

“Who has learned your counsel,

unless you have given wisdom

and sent your holy spirit from on high?

And thus the paths of those on earth

     were set right,

and people were taught what pleases

     you,

and were saved by wisdom.”

–Wisdom 9:17-18 (NRSVCE)

For decades fear of failure, fear of financial disaster, and fear of man shackled me to the status quo.  I was a slave to the comfort of the here and now, and I genuflected to the world’s shaky promise of a secure future.  Money and the accumulation of wealth had become my end-all be-all, despite its fickleness and empty promises.  I rode the undulating roller-coaster of the stock market and my bank accounts with increasing distaste and distrust.  I knew there was more to life, I just couldn’t release the safety bar and walk away from it.  But once I began to sincerely trust God and embrace His wisdom, something miraculous happened: the light of God’s face shined through the darkness of fear and illuminated the white stones of His promises He’d already placed on the path to Him.  One-by-one things began to snap into place: God, through the wisdom of His Spirit, revealed the source and structure of this book; my company allowed me to transition to half-time employment, giving me time to begin this journey in earnest; the lady who moved in next door to us is a children’s novel author and the owner of a publishing company; my company laid me off only two months before I intended to quit, and I received a severance package; opportunities to serve my fellow writers in the capacity of editor “just happened” to pop up–two opportunities in the same week, diminishing my fears about financial solvency and my future capability to keep a roof over my family’s heads.  God saved me–and continues to save me daily–with His wisdom.

And as dots connect and doors continue to open, as Wisdom pours into my heart and puts a smile on my face, joy walks hand-in-hand with her, and together they continue to reveal to me what’s next.  As Ben Sirach wrote in his book: “Whoever loves [wisdom] loves life, and those who seek her from early morning are filled with joy.  For at last you will find the rest she gives, and she will be changed into joy for you.” (Sirach 4:12, 6:28 NRSVCE).

Copyright ©2013 by David C. Hughes

The Epiphany of Joy, Chapter 3: Joy in Wisdom [1 of 2]

When we walk with Him, we learn His ways, His wisdom, His love, and His boundless joy.

–Matthew Kelly, A Call to Joy, page 43

 

Minutes invested in praying for wisdom will save days spent in overcoming mistakes.  To advance in joy, first retreat with God.

–Tommy Newberry, The 4:8 Principle, page 142

 

For to the one who pleases God, he gives wisdom and knowledge and joy.

–Ecclesiastes 2:26a (NABRE)

 

 

Our daughter, Hannah, is a competitive gymnast, spending over 20 hours a week training in the gym.  Because of this major time commitment, Mary and I had to chunk our tentative vision of Hannah attending public school and heartily embrace the new world order of home school.  Yes, we’re those kind of parents!  This unconventional lifestyle has challenged us to not only choose an appropriate curriculum, but to establish consistency and discipline in teaching, and it has rewarded us with witnessing Hannah’s joy in learning.  She loves school–loves it!–especially math and drawing, and it tickles us when she absorbs phonics and applies it to both her reading and writing.  The girl’s already written and illustrated a book!  (Of which I possess the only copy, so its value is priceless).  If you haven’t guessed already, we’re pretty darn proud of our daughter!

One morning I took over the educational duties while my Proverbs 31 wife scooted off to work.  Part of Hannah’s curriculum involves teaching a new Proverb every week, and this particular morning the lesson was Proverbs 10:5 in the New International Reader’s Version (NIrv): “He who gathers crops in summer is a wise son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.”  You know, Aesop’s old “Ant and the Grasshopper” fable.

“What does ‘wise’ mean, Dad?” Hannah asked.

“It means to be filled with wisdom.”

“But what’s wisdom?”

“It’s, uh, it’s, well, it’s the application of knowledge,” I replied.  Of course these are some big words and even bigger concepts for a forty-nine-year-old, uh, I mean, a five-year-old.  “It’s like when we learn something new,” I tried to explain, “then we use what we learned.  That’s wisdom.”

But like joy, wisdom is one of those concepts I’ve struggled to wrap my arms around, and my response to Hannah’s query left me unsatisfied.  What is wisdom, really?  What does it mean to be wise?  What does it mean to have wisdom?  And how can wisdom bring joy?  “It’s a gift from God,” Mary answered when I asked my wife what she thought wisdom was.  “And how can a gift from God not bring you joy?  It’s like patience in a room full of kids.  It’s a gift.”  My wife is a very wise woman.

According to Bible Gateway’s dictionary of Bible themes, wisdom is “the quality of knowledge, discernment and understanding characteristic of God himself.  True wisdom, seen in the ministry of Jesus Christ, is a gift of the Holy Spirit.” (http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/dictionary-of-bible-themes/8361-wisdom).  The author of the Deuterocanonical Book of Wisdom wrote: “For [Wisdom] is an aura of the might of God and a pure effusion of the glory of the Almighty.  For she is the refulgence of eternal light, the spotless mirror of the power of God, the image of his goodness.” (Wisdom 7:25a, 26 NAB).  Wisdom is the splendor of God, the brilliance of His character, the reflection of His holiness.

The first Proverb Hannah memorized as part of her first grade My Father’s World curriculum was Proverbs 9:10, “If you really want to become wise, you must begin by having respect for the Lord.  To know the Holy One is to gain understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10 NIrV).  This first step to gaining wisdom is a common theme running throughout the Bible: “And he said to the human race, ‘The fear of the Lord–that is wisdom . . . .’” (Job 28:28a NIV).  “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; prudent are all who live by it.  His praise endures forever.”  (Psalm 111:10 NAB).  “The beginning of wisdom is fear of the LORD.” (Sirach 1:12a NAB).

But if fear of the Lord is opening the door to wisdom, how do we invite her in?  All we gotta do is ask!  “But if any of you lacks wisdom,” James wrote in his epistle to the twelve tribes, “he should ask God who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and he will be given it.” (James 1:5 NAB).  Ask and you shall receive, as Jesus said, but ask with a reverent, expectant heart.  Take King Solomon, for example.  When God told him He’d grant any request Solomon asked for, Solomon answered “’Give me, therefore, wisdom and knowledge to lead this people, for otherwise who could rule this great people of yours?’” (2 Chronicles 10 NAB). He didn’t ask for riches, treasures, and glory, but wisdom. In reply, God not only granted Solomon’s request, but He also gave him the riches, treasures, and glory Solomon had left unspoken.  Wisdom is more precious than anything, because “if riches be a desirable possession in life, what more rich than wisdom who produces all things?” (Wisdom 8:5 NAB).  Indeed, Solomon came to be known as the wisest (and richest) man who ever lived.  “But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness,” Jesus preached in Matthew 6:33, “and all these things will be given you besides.” (Matthew 6:33 NAB).

 

Copyright ©2013 by David C. Hughes

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