My journal of 2007 & 8 is titled “Lessons on Humility & Wisdom” because I was seeking to glean from daily life what I could of those two characteristics as I wrote. I was trying desperately to use my journal to filter these values out of the normalcy of each day.
Sometimes I recorded nothing but dirt and silt and sludge, but that’s what a journal is good for – when I go back and read I find a few nuggets of truth and thoughts worth investing into my current life and the lives of my children.
I’ve written recently about God’s presence outside of the time spectrum, and that I think this has everything to do with how we perceive unanswered or ignored prayers. I haven’t finished my thinking on that yet, but here’s another issue: God’s will for one’s life.
As a high school or college student, I viewed “God’s Will” as a singular destination, sort of like my marriage to M. He prepared me and He prepared M, and then brought us together in a completion of His will on point. That’s an oversimplification of life, and marriage too, actually. But I’m not writing about the marriage point right now.
I read the Bible and found that Elijah had a time between his childhood and his mission where he stayed at the dry creek and was nourished by God through the ravens; that Moses lived 120 years: 40 in the Egyptian palace being trained in leadership and discipline, 40 in Midian learning husbandry and family life, and then 40 using the skills now learned to lead the Israelites. Clearly, the first parts of his life were there to prepare him for the last stretch. Even Christ Himself spent the first portion of His life preparing and training for His 3 year ministry. Each one of these had a fairly clear training period and mission period, like boot camp before duty. For much of my life I have expected the same, resulting in several experiences of disappointment. I thought I was strolling through the gates of the destination, and then found another set of walls, or even another mountain range to climb, in front of me. I can only imagine how disappointing it was to Moses to discover, while looking across a valley at Jericho, that he would go no further than Mt. Nebo.
What I am just starting to accept is that I am not just making my way toward “His Will” as a final destination, where I will do some great work and then retire with a plaque reading “Well done my good & faithful servant,” but that the journey itself is His Majesty’s Will (HMW). That my interactions with people along the way are HMW. That my raising of my sons is HMW. That my prayer life is HMW.
An interesting twist of my search and prayers for humility & wisdom is that I ran for public office during this search. God certainly used the campaign to answer these prayers. Throughout the campaign, I was constantly reminded that people would vote for me, or not, based on what they heard from others. I couldn’t personally speak to every voter, so I could not possibly accomplish this on my own, or even on my own merit. This was humbling. I had to admit the power of the We instead of the I. Everytime we gained a new supporter, I knew it wasn’t just because I was all that, but because someone else had been working. That broke down some of my pride and that’s when I began to realize:
Pride blocks Wisdom.
In Romans 5:15, our old friend Paul says,
Suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character, and character, Hope.
With that established from scripture, we can break down part of this equation into a sub-equation:
Me minus Selfishness yields Humility (the opposite of Pride) which builds Character.
As I persevere through trials and failure (like losing an election) my selfishness and pride fades giving way to humility, character, and finally, a renewed and stronger Hope. Because of the above, it didn’t take long to overcome the disappointment of the loss.
So, page 82 of that journal goes like this:
It takes the Wisdom that comes from experience to find the joy in the journey and not just focus on the destination. That’s why kids are famous for “Are we there yet?”
I haven’t fully reached that spot of Wisdom yet, but I’m learning to appreciate the path to it.