Monday, August 3, 2015

Wisdom is Found Where You Are Not Looking

I read much; I study much; I have been increasing my knowledge of things all my life --- so why does it never cease to amaze me at how stupid I am?  There is so much to learn.
The Pharisees saw and heard, but did not learn.  The people of Nazareth saw the miracles and heard Jesus preach in the Temple, yet said:   “This is the carpenter’s son.  We know him.  Just who does he think he is, acting so high and mighty?”  They didn’t believe.  And when the apostles came and asked Jesus to send the crowds away so they could get something to eat, He answered:  “Why don’t you feed them?”  And they didn’t understand.
Those people could not believe even what they saw with their own eyes or heard with their own ears, because it was beyond their experiences.  “This can’t be,” they said.  They had never experienced anything or anyone like Jesus, so they couldn’t believe.  I think the question we need to ask ourselves is:  have we experienced Him?  Can we really believe?
About 5 years ago a young woman said she felt called to go on a mission trip to Africa.  Skipping a college scholarship, she felt compelled to go --- and with a large donation, I helped make it possible.  She spent a year in Ghana, teaching the poor, and then started a school there which has grown greatly.  Many children are being blessed through her efforts.  Recently she wrote on her blog how she now sees God in the beauty of Africa, and in the smiling faces of the children there.  And when questioned about God’s blessings on her work she said:  “I don’t believe that.  I am not a Christian” --- anymore.
And I felt very sad.
This woman has experienced so much in Africa and can believe God is in her experiences, but has, it seems, never experienced Jesus.  If she has heard His words, she did not understand.  If her parents taught her truths, somehow she came not to believe them.  She only believes in her experiences.  She only believes in herself.  How many in our culture are like her, alone in their saying:  “I know the truth, and all the rest of you all you religious believers, you are all wrong.”
“I know.”
It seems so many people want to tear down our history, our culture, our religion.  Since they did not experience these things and were never taught their value, they rely only on themselves.  “We need to fundamentally change America,” they say --- to what, they do not know, but to something they can experience and believe.
They have never experienced prayer in the quiet of a chapel, as I have, nor had God speak to them.  For all they have learned, they could not believe that once people experienced miracles.  They cannot believe that miracles still happen.  I do.  I know.  I have seen.
Like those Pharisees, those Nazarines, and those unbelieving apostles, I often don’t understand.  I too trust in the truth of my experiences --- much like the once-Catholic young lady in Africa.  For all my learning and experiences, I too am inclined to believe “I know,” or say “prove me wrong.”  But the point of my opening paragraph was that I AM learning, and I WILL BE learning --- all my life.  I will never learn enough in this life to know the mind of God, to know all Truth.  And so I will never really be able to understand the reason for many things that happen in my life, or in the life of others.  Maybe the pope is reaching out to non-Christians with his encyclicals.  Maybe this young lady in Africa is really finding God in SOMETHING for the first time, and this is the start of her faith journey.  Maybe her future is something I cannot see, nor understand, but I need to accept.  Maybe I need to look at fruits, and assume the tree is healthy, with roots I cannot see.
All I can do is Hope in Jesus’ promises about the future, and based on my experiences of how much He has loved me, trust in Him.
They say that is true wisdom.  You don’t learn it; you live it.  And it is a gift.   


  1. This post reminded me of that old saying, "you don't know what you don't know."
    and it's corollary that goes something like, "What we know is about 1% of what is known. What we know we don't know is about 5% of what is known. What we don't know we don't know is about 96% of what is known."

    :-) Fran

  2. The corollary is new to me; I like it. Thanks, Fran.

    Driving back from church just now, I heard a caller to Rush's show state that the liberal mind is altruistic; they want to help everyone. The act based on their feelings for the other person, whereas the conservative acts based on his mind, and facts. There certainly is something to be said for either viewpoint, however I was tempted to call in and state MY OPINION, which is that the liberal mindset is NOT that "I want to help everyone," but rather that "SOMEONE should help everyone," a critical difference. The liberal mindset would have the government or someone else "love you neighbor." They'd delegate the responsibility that God gave them, thinking that the ends justify the means. They don't.

    I pray for the young lady in Africa, and volunteer time and money to help those who enter my life. Our current vice president donated $500 to charity, and thinks he is helping the poor because he pays his taxes. He's like the former-Catholic in Africa, who has never really experienced Jesus.

    But there is always hope.

    P.S. I also read this quote this morning, which I liked: "Anxiety is the soul's greatest enemy except for sin. -- St. Francis De Sales

  3. Tom - I've been having trouble with my phone/internet connection and haven't been able to get online since about Aug. 5. Very interesting experience, being involuntarily cut off from the internet. I find my habit for it isn't very profound, and I really didn't miss it much. I really kind of smiled to myself thinking God was kind of testing me, or letting me see myself a little - and testing to see how I would respond to not being able to get online.

    I do admit I thought about it a lot more than I should have, and found I felt a kind of loneliness or sort of restlessness not being able to keep up with my favorite people/blogs online. But overall it didn't affect me very much. I worried more about not having phone service than I did not having internet.

    Anyway, in response to your comment, I wholeheartedly agree about the liberal mindset thinking "love thy neighbor" is the job of the government, and one is doing that duty by paying taxes. I also wholeheartedly agree that it is a way to evade the personal responsibility God gave us to help others. Liberals have said to me conservatives do not care for the poor or those in need. I have told them that is not true, that conservatives also recognize the need to assist the poor and disadvantaged. The real difference between liberals and conservatives is who they think should do the work and who should pay for it. Liberals think it's the job of government, conservatives think it's the job of charities and individuals.

    I further agree with you that when you have met Jesus, you realize He is talking to YOU; that I is me that should should help my neighbor, me who should pull them out of the ditch, bind their wounds, take them on my own animal to the hospice, and pay for their care myself. Compassion is one on one. When it costs you no sacrifice of your own self, it is not a charitable deed. At least that's what I think. :-)

    And thanks for the thought on anxiety. I've been very anxious lately. It's due to the settling of my parents' estate, now that my mom is gone, and all complications that go with it, all while trying to cope with grief and feeling pretty depressed her passing. Every time I have to do some work toward it the next day I feel horrible. I have four brothers, three of whom were quite distant from her during her long illness, and they feel they have waited a long time for any inheritance and so they are quite eager to get everything resolved. Hence my anxiety. They are rushing me and I can't slow them down. Oh well. I just have to cope with it I guess.

    I was praying about it today, asking God to help me just see that He will help me make the right decisions when I come up to something where I don't know what to do, and will give me the insight I need to find the right course. That seemed to help my anxiety, and then I got busy and forgot all about it. So thanks for the quote. It's something to ponder.
    God bless. ~ Fran