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.”
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.