What would you do, particularly as you don’t know anything about road building? It would take a long while to master a breadth of knowledge that has taken many centuries to accumulate. Many mistakes made over many years in many ways have been invested in that knowledge. It takes years to learn about that knowledge, it would take a lifetime if you had to start from scratch without learning from the past.
One of the secrets to life is learning from those who have gone before. Nobody undertakes an important project without being trained. It is the same with life. Life is infinitely more important and complicated than building a road, yet many of us think we can get on with living without learning from those who have gone before.
The writer of Proverbs says that to succeed in life you have to desire wisdom. Pursue it; seek it out with passion and enthusiasm; hang out with wise people; observe how they apply it to living; ask questions and keep asking questions. Make it a lifelong quest. But how many of us actually do that?
The choice to seek wisdom requires a certain amount of humility, a willingness to acknowledge your own ignorance and a preparedness to put to aside your own wants and needs. By seeking and following wisdom there are many things that you will not attempt to follow because others have been there and have found it doesn’t work. In other words, wisdom trusts those who have gone before us.
“Wisdom calls us to empty ourselves, die to self, and silence our own voices.
This is what Jesus was talking about when he said that “whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it” (Matthew 16:25). Wisdom calls us to empty ourselves, die to self, and silence our own voices. Wisdom acknowledges that we don’t know it all, and it is good to ask others.
Wisdom recognises that this propensity to put our own self-belief at the centre of our lives is perhaps one of the most difficult challenges in our quest for wisdom. Giving up this confidence in self and trusting in the God who made us seems so counter-intuitive in our contemporary world.
We are challenged to seek wisdom and one place to find it is in those who have gone before us and from the One who made us. Both of these are fulfilled in Jesus. May God strengthen us all to seek wisdom in him. Life is too important to leave it to guesswork.
Stephen L Baxter