“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you. Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.”
This word document has had this sole scripture on it for weeks now. These words have been screaming at me and causing my anxieties to rise the moment vulnerability manifests itself. My thoughts have overcome me with the deep paranoia of how can I sit here and type them, when my heart portrays the opposite.
I do not keep my heart with all vigilance. I keep crooked speech close, rather than far away. My eyes are not always set directly forward and I do not always ponder the way of my feet. In fact, I live swerving left and right. I too easily forget that everything is purposed for the pruning of my own disobedience and misplaced affections. When considering the explanation of my flesh the prominent problem is that my thoughts of God are not great enough. In fact, I long for the praise of man more deeply than I long to glory in him. Now this is not just an incredibly vile sin, full of adulteress nature, that only my flesh is entangled by. Therefore, how could I believe that I have enough wisdom to help another, encourage another or even share with another?
In fact, my filthy heart desires the knowledge of where, when, why and how for each occurrence in my life. (emphasis on the WHY). I falsely believed that the more I grew in wisdom and knowledge of God, the more I would understand his providence and why the exact things were happening in the moment. Perhaps I could finally reach a point of rejoicing amidst suffering in the moment with genuine cheers of, “wow I love suffering, thank you God so much for my suffering because this exact moment is producing….” I also have believed that this said knowledge would provide the answer that I needed for everything and the power to leave circumstances holy and blameless. How unfathomably foolish of my finite nature.
However, I have been learning that this is not the way wisdom truly appears at all. In fact, I was quite perplexed as the book of Proverbs began spelling out wisdom as humility, peace, joy, gentleness and self-control. Never had it crossed my mind that wisdom reflected deeper repentance, deeper communion, and radical heart transformations. For my feeble eyes had viewed it through the lens of pride in gaining insight as to why God carefully completes things that he does. Almost, as if I could maybe, just maybe, have a glimpse behind his divine providence in the affliction of my life.
In his book Knowing God, J.I. Packer states, “Our faith is so feeble and our worship so flabby. We are modern people, and modern people, though they cherish great thoughts of themselves, have as a rule, small thoughts about God… Our personal life is a finite thing: it is limited in every direction, in space, in time, in knowledge, in power. But God is not so limited. He is eternal, finite and almighty. He has us in his hands; we never have him in ours.” (Packer, 83). Looking further he says, “God’s wisdom cannot be frustrated… God’s almighty wisdom is always active, and never fails. All his works of creation and providence and grace display it, and until we can see it in them we just are not seeing them straight.” (Packer, 91). Now let us turn back a few chapters for one last excerpt, “He blesses those on whom he sets his love in a way that humbles them, so that the glory may be his alone. Still he hates the sins of his people, and uses all kinds of inward and outward pains and griefs to wean their hearts from compromise and disobedience.” (Packer, 79).
The beauty of wisdom is not gaining knowledge to the point of a boastful pride. It is not the right answer to everything, nor the insight and understanding of the providence of God. The beauty of wisdom is pruning and growing in humility and bearing the fruit of repentance. It is the humble, vulnerable confession of how filthy our rags really are. We are not meant to understand exactly why we are divinely placed, or the purpose and reasoning behind momentary affliction. However, we must grasp how light and momentary our days are, for only then can we begin to understand the eternal weight in proper perspective. Wisdom, a precious jewel, allows us to more humbly approach the throne in deeper repentance.
Walking hand in hand with Christ is the very source of this growth. Our Triune God lovingly lavishes wisdom upon us who are finite and unworthy. Knowing God is a matter of grace. Infinite, divine and merciful grace. One in which present discouragement, anxieties and moments are easily placed into perspective. One of discipline, one of growth, one of “personal affection, redeeming action and providential watchfulness.” I am known. I am graven on the palm of his hands and am never out of his mind. This unspeakable comfort causes my momentary affliction to collapse in the confident knowledge that Christ is all. He alone is my surpassing worth.