No one ever sets out to have a Ph.D. in moving. But here I am. Ministry is full of hellos and goodbyes. This past spring Chris and I made move number fourteen. Transitions are tricky and can leave us off balance. Change and unknowns often keep us up at night and bring us to our knees. These crossroads may find us clueless yet earnestly seeking His will and the wisest path forward. Should I go left, or right? Is this job offer the best for my family during this season? If I buy this item online, will it be good stewardship? So many questions, so few answers. I lack wisdom, but where do I look first?
The Search for Wisdom
We might look to the world that offers easy advice. Worldly wisdom is fallen and leads to what Solomon calls folly. “The devising of folly is sin” (Proverbs 24:9). Sometimes, we look inward or turn to friends. They mean well, but sometimes their reference point is based on personal experience or feelings, so their friendly advice can run fickle. Maybe like me, you turn to the old logical strategy of the pro-con list. We grab paper and pen, draw a line down the middle, and then do the math. Which side outweighs the other? I used this approach at one of our critical ministry junctures.
My husband was offered a new position as senior pastor of Naperville Presbyterian outside of Chicago. My children were in middle school, and I was settled in my house in South Florida. I wore flip-flops and did not own a coat. The unknowns of moving from a dear church we planted to a large established church left me overwhelmed. Most days, I fretted more than I prayed. When I couldn’t sleep, I made my list of the pros and cons.
The next day I picked up the phone to call my mentor, Susan Hunt. I let her know about this potential call. She began asking me how the Lord had led Chris and me through His Word and prayer. I recounted our long conversations and Chris’s conviction of call. Then I pulled out my list and began to make my case to her about how even though this might be excellent stewardship of Chris’s gifts, I wondered if it would be a good fit for the kids and me at this season of our life. Susan let me rattle on for a few minutes; then, she shifted my attention upward. Like a good gospel friend, she reminded me that we see throughout Scriptures our covenantal LORD always works through families. Then she asked me one simple question, “Do you believe God has led Chris to this new pastorate?” I replied, “Yes.” Then she kindly said, “Well, if God has led Chris, then He has led you, Anna Grace, and Haddon. Whatever God’s best is for him, then you can be confident that is most certainly God’s best for you all too.”
This conversation happened in 2006. As I look back, I can recount God’s amazing goodness. Her wise words proved true. Susan’s wisdom was rooted in the truth of God’s Word. They encouraged me to not to look at a list, or look within to my doubts, but instead to look up.
Wisdom is Impartial and Sincere
James also invites us to look up in the lack. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (James 1:5). He reiterates this upward posture in the beauty of the multifaceted beauty of spiritual wisdom in this series found in James 3:17: “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” Today we gaze at how wisdom is impartial. It is not tainted or biased. It is not partial to comfort and convenience over God’s best. Wisdom is also sincere. This heavenly wisdom is not hypocritical. It is free from doubts and insincerity. It is never wavers. It is steady, resolute, and fixated on living for God’s glory.
My story highlights a wisdom gap. When we walk in worldly wisdom, there is a gap between what we say we know and how we live and make decisions. You see, I had my list and had calculated the data, but I lacked wisdom. Wisdom is not knowledge acquired, but rather knowledge applied.
Maybe you are out there trying to discern God’s will. Perhaps you feel the despair in the lack. Look up, dear friend! Look to, “Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom in knowledge” (Colossians 2:3). We could spend the rest of eternity seeking His wisdom and never exhaust the richness. This genuine wisdom helps us to stand firm and steadfast. When we look out or inward, our decisions are built on shifting sand. Wisdom will be sincere and unwavering when we look up and listen to Him in the lack. “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24). This wisdom will never waver; it will be rock solid.
Photo by Brendan Church on Unsplash