The Wisdom of Proverbs (Proverbs 3:7-8)

16 12 2010

Proverbs 3:7-8

7Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
8It will be a healing for your flesh
and a refreshment for your body.

Verse 7, in my opinion, offers up a unique definition of engaging in evil: being wise, rational, smart, justifying your life and actions. To be honest, this is kind of weird for me because I think that I’m a pretty rational person for the most part. I don’t try to be evil when making most of my decisions. I don’t try to harm others but do what is best and healthiest for me; if it holds the potential to harm others, then I’ll think it through carefully before coming to any rash decisions. Given this fact of careful consideration, I don’t think that my rationality is an evil thing. I think it’s a good thing and good quality about myself.

But then I think about the depths of decision-making that I don’t really want to deal with. I think about that fast-food purchase, that decision to save the dollar I could have given to that homeless person because I wanted some M&Ms or an iced tea. I think about the clothes I don’t wear but need to hoard in case I do need them. I think about the fact that I pay for internet when I can go to the library and use it for free. I think about times when I buy just because I want.

I think about things I “do for my sanity since I can’t save the world” like not pick up the phone because I’m pretty sure so and so will want something, the e-mails I delete that address the water problem in Africa, the food problem here in the United States and the prison problems here in the Triangle. I think about food I throw out every couple of weeks because I wanted it then but don’t want it now. I think about how my attitude was justified because I was mad at them. While I act friendly towards someone I think about how they did me wrong many times and how they don’t deserve my forgiveness; and they may never get it because I don’t want to give it.

And I begin to realize how I only survey my decision-making when I’m making “good decisions”. I tend to forget the hundreds of bad decisions I made during the week that were not so good, even, dare I say it, evil. My ten god decisions may affect others but my hundreds of bad decisions were about me; and ironically, they still affect others. Maybe this is what God’s wisdom is warning us against, the hundreds of little things we do wrong that we make nothing of, that we are so quick to forgive ourselves of, or that we justify we deserve to forget.

It may have seemed like a good idea at the time, but our wisdom, our rationale, falls short.

The solution rests outside of ourselves. They involve us, but we are not at the center. God is. But even God gives us back the space. We must understand the vastness of God, and once we do, there is no other human response but to fear God, not in human-fear, but divine-fear. We fear God because we realize how far away we are from God when we take up our own agendas. We realize how much trouble we are in once we leave the protective covering of God. That is how big God is. We fear how far away we are once we realize how big God is. We fear our location and how we managed to get there. This is the fear of the Lord.

Fearing the Lord and turning away from evil seem like a combo deal. Once we realize that if we’re not with God, we’re in trouble, it is easy to spot and avoid evil. We won’t be fooled, for God’s wisdom will be with, on and in us. Evil won’t have a chance to plant any seeds within us, we’ll be too smart for that.

All this comes if we decide not to follow our thoughts and rationale alone and if we decide to listen to and follow God first, not what we think God should be saying, but what God is saying. Even our interpretations fall short. Humans have specialized in messing up God’s instruction. We must remember that anything of God’s is better than anything of ours. Relying on God’s instruction is a balm. It heals. It re-joins. It rehabilitates. Reliance on God patches up the holes in our hearts, the emptiness in our relationships, and the hate in ourselves. Placing our trust in God rejuvenates us because we don’t have to do the work of fixing people. Depending on God’s ways takes the burdens we can’t bear off of us, and gives us a lighter burden. We must remember that we ultimately make the choice to apply God’s wisdom or not. We have the choice to take the better burden and build up our strength all the while recovering, recuperating from burdens we weren’t meant to carry. If you are carrying burdens you weren’t meant to carry, drop it immediately. Pick up the burden of grace, mercy, peace, and love and continue journeying onwards. You will heal. It will take time, but it will happen. But take Jesus’ burden and never put it down.

Prayer: Lord, impress grace, mercy, love, understanding, kind-heartedness, peace, and justness into our hearts and onto our backs. We will be strong with them on it, and impossible to destroy with them in us. Lord, govern that transition in Jesus’ name, Amen.

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When I Leave You with Peace

23 08 2010

I Google-chat a lot, and like to sign off with “Peace” as often as I can. To me “peace” is not an exit signal, but an invocation for something greater than what I am capable of doing or even being in the other person’s life.

When I say “peace” I mean it. Our conversation could be about stressful or turbulent topics that require something a bit deeper, something more thoughtful, something a bit more real than “TTYL.” Sure, talk to you later could suffice, but I’d prefer to leave my friend with something genuine. I want to leave my friend with a blessing over their day, their life, their family, their needs. Even though I am not ordained yet, I want to bless people any and every chance I get.

So a declaration of peace it is.

I want them to think about what I’m leaving them with. I want them to internalize it and begin to agree that their life should have peace; that their tragedy is capable of harboring more than pain and suffering and that somewhere in the midst of the violent chaos of despair, life can have peace. But it has to welcome it first. And they have to be aware that their pain can be overridden with something smoother, simpler, more lovely.

“Peace” is not a synonym for goodbye. It is the subject for good fortune and love over one’s life. It is the shortest prayer I have ever given in my life. It is the best prayer I will ever give my life over to.

As you can see, I pray a lot.

It is my earnest desire and deepest wish over someone else. That they are not only greeted with good fortune and success in their day, but bombarded with peace that doesn’t and shouldn’t make sense; I want them to know the Holy Spirit even before recognizing Her presence in their midst. And when they know Her, I want them to never let Her leave them.

When I depart with “peace” on my lips or on my fingertips, I mean it. It is my prayer. It is my wish that you experience something far greater than yourself or your circumstances. It is my hope that you absolve fear and doubt and grasp onto something just as real if not more real. It is love from a God who never fails, that I want to hand over to you in a small reminder packaged in 5 letters.

Please receive this blessing over your day and extend God’s gift to others.

Peace,

Tomi





I’m still working on it but I used to get very, very upset when people didn’t call or text me back.

28 06 2010

I’m still working on it but I used to very, very upset when people didn’t call or text me back. And not just any people, but the people who were supposed to be important in my life. I felt that the people who were supposed to be there for me just weren’t.

So I thought it legitimate to blame it on technology.

Facebook and cell phones are evil, I used to muse. If I didn’t have a cell phone and they didn’t have a cell phone I’d be perfectly content on waiting to ask them what I must via letter or whenever I would see them next. It wouldn’t be a problem, but the urgency of technology has created a problem persona within me. At least that’s what I used to tell myself, until I recognized that there are some controlling aspects of me that I need to work on now rather than later. And that there is this deep tendency in me to take things personally that, even if they are meant personally, like not answering a text message until a week later, I still have control of my feelings and not control over other people’s actions.

And it’s time to stop blaming technology. I know a lot of people have this trend where they speak badly against technology because it has created the falsity of instant relationships, communication and contact; and I agree with that to an extent, but after a while we must admit that this technology-affects-relationships debate matters to us so much because we were overeager and fell head over heels in love with it. We overdosed on its drug-like affects of euphoric communicative abilities and now want the drug abolished, but it doesn’t work like that. It took too long to get the drug legalized.

What does work is reflecting on why I may need to talk to “so and so” so badly. I have to face it; technology will keep evolving and be around long after I’m gone. I can’t control that; but I can control myself and who I allow into my life and inner circle.

A lot of the times, I reflect on the prophets and how some, especially Jeremiah weren’t feeling God’s communication back to them. They talked constantly and let God be the center of their life and didn’t feel like they were receiving the same effort from God.

Now, I know my friends are not nor will they ever equate to God, but perhaps the correlation between the prophets and I is the “I”. Maybe the common denominator is the person who feels hurt whether the anticipated communicator is a good or bad friend, or God. Perhaps the most impactful part of the lesson of non-communication is that the party with all the expectation sees something in that relationship worth being upset for or they don’t.

I have a hand in determining my mood. If I don’t like a class, I can drop it. If I am not connecting with a church body, there are others out there, one that could fit me best, but I must do the leaving and cleaving. Technology is not to blame. Even my non-communicative friends are not to blame. I have the choice or who is allowed in my life and in that choice, I can evaluate where I am (if I’m too needy or not, or if I am justified in expecting a certain level of communication from someone in my life).

It’s not a technological debate. It’s a personality issue, whether it’s mine or the said person in question. For the prophets it was not God. God was God and could do what God wanted or did not want to do. Hmmm, I guess we humans can do what we want to do too. Including evaluating what’s most important to us and what we must change or adjust in order to lead peaceful lives.








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