I stood shaving in front of the mirror, as a Bible app on my phone read Job to me aloud in an optimistic, English 'Hugh Grant-y' tone. I can't remember what I was thinking about at the time. All I can remember is this was the day I learnt the meaning of 'understanding' and 'wisdom'. Ask yourself: what really is understanding? And wisdom? What is that?
There's a verse, 'when I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child...' If I was a preacher I'd get all T. D. Jakes right about now. I'd start to build suspense. I'd tell the congregation to turn to three people and tell them, 'those days are gone', 'those days are gone', 'those days are GONE!'
With the congregation's attention and focus, I'd imitate a baby speaking, and a baby understanding. After all, how and what do they understand? They understand limited words, honing in on cues and sounds relating to experiences and feelings, which are ultimately either positive or negative. They understand touch, smell, sight and taste. Their world revolves around a limited experience. Or, if we flip it around, 'an experience of limitation.' Let's continue my fantasy. I'm a preacher on stage...
'But Pastor Luschwitz,' says a man from the congregation, 'if a child understands as a child, where's the harm in that?'
Oh, I'd get excited at this point. Really excited! I'd take my handkerchief and I'd wipe the beads of sweat from my head, saying, 'but Glory to God, those days are gone!' And I'd finish the Bible verse for them, 'but when I became a man,' I'd say, 'I put away childish things.' Slamming my hand on the table I'd gaze around the auditorium, casting my eyes on every member of the congregation. 'Iputawaychildishthings,' I'd repeat for added effect.
What does this mean? It's difficult to grasp. I used to think wisdom equated to intelligence and maturity, but if this is true how come there are so many who are old but aren't wise? How come there are the mature and the intelligent, and simultaneously, the unwise, the hard of understanding? Why is this the case if in fact wisdom comes with age? Why is this the case when Jesus, in Matthew, tells us to 'become like little children in order that we might enter the kingdom of Heaven?'
I can remember the day I learnt what understanding was because until then, like you, I'd equated it with age and maturity. 'I thought as a youngster growing up that I was becoming wiser simply by ageing.' At this point I'd stagger slightly on stage and slap my head as though I must have been missing something my whole life. 'Wisdomcomeswith age,' I'd mouth. 'We've all heard it said before!' How easy is that! Just be, and you'll get wise! Just be, and you'll gain understanding!
A layer beneath a layer
The thing is, just being is impossible. While we are, we are always something. A neutral 'being' is impossible. One must either be forward or backward, right or left, productive or reductive, indeed righteous or unrighteous, and, without God there can be no righteousness.
As I shaved I heard it clear as day, the English voice echoed from the bottom of my iPhone: 'The fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil, that is understanding.' A layer beneath a layer. The complex made simple.
I remember thinking to myself, 'if only I'd known earlier!' Oh that I would have prayed the Sinner's Prayer a long time ago, that I would gain wisdom and understanding. I'd been on a search for my own understanding. I thought I'd put 'childish things away' by showing my I.D. at the doors of places I should not have been, by building muscles at a level that children couldn't, and by looking downwards at people out of fear or anger, or both. I thought I had a good understanding.
In reality I could not have been further from the truth. See, the reason Jesus promoted the child's perspective was because it is always simple. If you tell a child he will get a lollypop if he is a good boy, he is going to be a good boy. If you tell an adult, he will rationalise the situation and consider the probability of him receiving the lollypop. The childlike perspective is promoted because it is faith and it is chasing after God. Understanding is chasing after God. It requires wisdom. Wisdom is the knowledge of who he is.
Allow me to assume my Pastor persona once more while I pray for you. If any of you lacks wisdom, the Bible says to ask for it and it shall be given to you. I'd like to pray for any of you who desire wisdom. I believe with all my heart it will be given to you and understanding will follow. If this is you, would you pray with me? Just say,
'Oh Lord Jesus,
I desire wisdom today.
I know wisdom is the knowledge of you, Lord.
And I know understanding is chasing after you.
Lord I want to know you,
And I want to chase after you,
All my days.
Help me I pray.
In Jesus' name.
If you prayed this prayer I offer to you my congratulations. It is a process of putting one foot in front of the other, but with the right people around you and with continued prayer and reading, you'll get to where you're supposed to go. Get into a good, Bible-based church and start talking to your creator. You can say goodbye to your old life: those days are gone.
David Luschwitz is from Zetland, Sydney and is passionate about equipping people to "Renew their Minds, Revive their Spirit and Reclaim their Lives."
Check out the vision and mission statement at www.davidluschwitz.com.
David Luschwitz' previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/david-luschwitz.html