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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

It’s a Question of Wisdom: Part Three

Now comes the question of the relationship between pain and wisdom. Consider the perspective that they are linked, two sides of the same coin. Remember how I said wisdom is acquired over time, one day at a time, and one experience at a time. And due to the pleasure-seeking bend of our natures, suffering is one of the only things that cause us to draw back and contemplate our choices.

Now, for argument sakes, let’s not confuse suffering with pain. Suffering can come in many forms: loss, being overlooked for promotion, realizing you have to save before you make a certain purchase…etc. These forms of suffering are as valuable to the development of the character of the man as are the weights and the cardio training is to the Olympian.   But while they represent suffering, they may not truly be pain.

The suffering or pain experienced, if surrendered to the knowledge and wisdom of God, will produce wisdom in the person. The key to this transition is to not confuse the acquisition of information with wisdom. Wisdom, therefore, is not just gathering information and knowledge; it is not even using that information in a productive manner; wisdom ~true wisdom~ is then defined as the proper submission and use of information and knowledge to the will of God.  Think about it.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

It’s a Question of Wisdom: Part Two

One of the wisest people I’ve ever known was my great-grandmother, Viola K. Johnson.  She couldn’t read or write, never used a telephone, or drove a car; and I have no memories of her with anything other than silver hair. But Grand-mama was wise. She understood people and the roles they played in the schemes of life. She understood power and the perception of power and the value of hard honest work.

I remember one day in particular when this wisdom rose to the surface; remember what I said about integrating knowledge/information into the life at just that right time. Well here’s an example of one such event. As you know, I was raised in the South in the 60’s. My hometown was a hotbed for of the Civil Rights movement where Klan marches were not uncommon.  On one muggy summer afternoon, this white man was lost in our neighborhood and being a child I was somewhat fascinated that a white man would be in our part of town…that usually just didn’t happen.

On this particular day, I walked out to the man’s car to say hi and to introduce myself as a child of four or five might. This man, who I later came to understand acted out of fear, cursed me and call me a nigger among several other derogatory epitaphs. This made me angry to the point of hot tears streaking my dusty face.  My great-grandmother, who had watched the scene from her rocking chair just inside the front door, called me in and pulled me up on her lap.  After making sure I was comfortable, she began to rock and hum her favorite song, Precious Lord. 

She was waiting for the proper timing.

When a few minutes had passed, she asked me about the experience. I sat up, and looked at her wrinkled face and said, “Mamma white folks are evil.”

She smiled and pulled me back against her bosom and said in response, “No baby, that white man was evil. He was just scared and acted out of his fear.” She went on to tell me, “In your life you will meet some good white folk and some bad white folk, some good black folk and bad black folk.” Then she looked at me and said, “Baby, people’s people. Everywhere you go people’s people.”  Now that was wisdom.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

It’s a Question of Wisdom: Part One

Wisdom, as I see it, must have as its foundation truth in order to qualify as true wisdom. There is a marked difference between wisdom and the mere accumulation of knowledge or information, as there is a vast difference between wealth and riches. For instance, if a person had as much as $22,000,000.00 but a debt of $25,000,000.00, then we could not call him rich in spite of his obvious wealth. Compare this to the man with $22,000.00 but a debt of only $18,000.00, who would then be the far richer person? The same is true of wisdom. Some have said that wisdom is the proper use of knowledge. I guess to some degree that is correct; as long as one has the right standard for what proper is and what it is not. Wisdom, therefore, then cannot be separated from its root in Christ. In any persuasion and in any application where one diverges from the pattern of Christ, it cannot be said of him or her that they are wise or are using wisdom. Therefore, as we began to search for the elements of wisdom in a man’s character, we must first see the traits of Christ in him. This person would be one who listens more than he speaks, one who studies and says less than he knows, and one who loves with the purpose of seeing God’s will revealed in another person’s life. However, unlike mere knowledge/information, wisdom cannot be compiled in a cram session but must be acquired over time. Even when one knows what is right, understanding the true integration of the correct knowledge into the life, and proper timing into the life, is where and how wisdom is matured. So the slow acquisition, one day at a time, one incident at a time, being properly compiled and submitted to the revealed will of God, results in the production of wisdom. ...Think about it.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Out of the Two comes One

Part Six: The one thing that is always true of my duel professions is that there are always intersections where the two worlds are poised for conflict. (You know what they say about phrases with the word always in them…they are always false. Smile.) The experience that gives substance to the lie is my working in the jail. Whenever a new inmate arrived, especially when that inmate was charged with a particularly horrible crime, I was challenged to be something different than that which was common around me. Where my fellow deputies might give into a lower impulse…nothing illegal, but still lower than what would be acceptable to the Lord, I would have to forgo that impulse. There was an occasion where on one night an inmate came in and was offensive in almost every way you might think, even to the point of his attacking a fellow deputy. At this point, it was my duty to stop the threat while assisting my fellow officer. The hard part came in having to stop myself. The impulse to give into anger, to become the punisher rather than the administer of justice. Conflict. The question of how to institute the higher law of grace and mercy where doing things “the normal way” would not be questioned. On most of these occasions this conflict did not register with anyone else, for the battle was solely within myself. Do I apply that control-hold for that one extra heartbeat; do I ignore that inmate’s reasonable request just because of what he’s done or who he might be? These are the battles I fought and still fight. But then again, in reality, it is the battle we all fight: Will we do the right thing when it is time for the right thing to be done? Conflict….Just saying.