Changing Times

I am sure that at least some of you are wondering why I haven’t posted anything for the past couple of weeks and there are several reasons that comprise that answer that question.

Heading up the list is the pandemic of the corona virus and the impact it has already made on life as we have know it.  Life as we knew it is gone and we are discovering the new normal.  This has altered our lives in so many ways and people are asking, “Have you ever seen anything like this, before?”  Actually, there have been many things like this before, though with some differences.  Change is the norm for all of life as we know it.  Our environment is constantly changing.  Historians tell us that there have been multiple environmental changes such as the ice age, etc. Even more to our time, the weather patterns are changing back and forth from warming to  cooling; wet and dry years.   I remember the end of the dust bowl era and even a dust storm where the dust arrived as a wall of dust cloud and filtered through even the smallest cracks.  Change was present when we went from traveling in a wagon to a car; getting electricity when I was 7 years old; having running water inside the house, radio, TV, phones, computers, etc.  I am so glad that I saw life without all of these modern conveniences and went through these changes.  Indeed, change has been constant my whole life so that helps me to understand what is going on now.

Not only is our environment changing but our bodies are constantly changing.  First, there was the period of growth, then physiological changes, then family changes, career changes, then middle age spread and on to grand parenting and retirement and all the while realizing that I am not the man I once was.  Someone stole that young body I once had along with all my hair.  Now I can’t see as well, nor hear as well as I could before but I heard that it will all be okay soon as I won’t remember it either.  If there is one constant in life it is that everything is constantly changing.

Going backwards in history there have been sickness and disease tragedies of epic proportions.  A more recent event was the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918 and even before that the bubonic plague in England and Europe.  There have been untold numbers of events such as Anthrax, Cholera, Yellow Fever, and even when I was young I had to have polio shots.  Entire cities and town were decimated and even whipped out because of disease.  No, this isn’t the first nor is it probably the last time we have faced pandemic crises. 

Change isn’t even the issue because change is a constant.  It is not the fact that we can face death for it also is a constant as everyone dies sometime from something.  What matters are the choices we make in such times.  Is this a time in which it is okay to betray the values we claim to possess?  Is quitting an answer that is acceptable to ourselves?  Is the cost to great to pay for the victory that can be claimed?  When Israel was in captivity and they were threatened to be totally annihilated, Mordecai told Esther, “who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?  I think that it is, as Winston Churchill said to England at their lowest point in WW 2; “May it be said of us the this was our finest hour.”  It is not a question of “IF” we face change, but rather “HOW” we face it that makes the difference.  We should face it trusting the Lord and declaring the HOPE that is within us.  Your response will reveal what you truly believe.

Wisdom

Wisdom can be defined as the proper use of knowledge.  Knowledge is basically information whereas wisdom is the proper use of that information. 

The application of wisdom falls into three distinct arenas.  The first arena is on the personal level and has to do with your personal proficiency.  Itdeals with your skills and abilities.  These skills and abilities can be improved by training and experience.  There are at least five characteristics that enhance an individual’s personal proficiency.  First, they are focused.  They have a goal and it is predominate in their efforts and they are constantly moving toward it.  They do not allow distractions to keep them from it. 

Second, they are organized and they have learned not to waste motion or action.  Any distraction from that goal requires additional energy, resources, and time and can defeat the main effort by exhausting your provisions to reach your goal.  My dad used to advise me to “work smarter, not harder” to underscore this truth.

A third characteristic is efficiency, which is thinking about what you are doing and practicing it repeatedly.  By doing this you discover how to remove wasted motion and the end result is that you make it look easy.

A fourth characteristic is diligence.  They neither give up nor quit.  Staying at the task is vital in order to accomplish it.   After all is said and done it still requires a full investment to do it.  Equally important is protecting against burn out which requires a balance of effort. 

Finally, they finish well.  Completing a job is not only satisfying but it is also a vital part of the effort.  They tie up loose ends with the three R’s of RESTORE, REPLACE and RETURN.  They restore their tool’s function by fixing what’s broken and repairing what is worn.  They replace what is used up and worn out and they return what is to be used again to its place.

The second arena of wisdom is in Proper Prudence.  Thisarena addresses professional practices with others and involves living a productive and generally successful life.  In this arena you deal with people and all of their faults and failures.  They are not always kind or helpful but rather they are mostly selfish, short sighted and hurtful as they are in darkness and have not know God or his ways.  Here it is not a matter of just being right but a reflection of the grace and wonder of God, Himself.  Sometimes we must bear the burden of their error in order to reach them in their darkness. 

Honesty and fairness in your business dealings are good examples of how to relate to people who are walking in darkness.  Truthfulness and dependability are also spotlights that expose God.  Humility is the alternate to the proud, and respect will set you apart from those who ridicule.  These are but examples of proper prudence that say you are important and I value you.  This wisdom comes from God and requires a dependence on Him to work His wonder.  It is not a compromise nor is it flattery but must be genuine in its application and an expression of faith in the Lord.

The third arena of wisdom is Philosophical Principles.  This arena addresses the profound issues of human existence such as good vs. evil, human suffering, the basic questions of life (Who? What?  When? Where? And Why?) with an emphasis on the Why of life.  Answers in this arena come down to the Sovereignty of God and ultimately we must trust Him; especially when we do not understand.  Yet, struggling with these principles we come to understand God better.  The book of Job is a classic example of this arena of wisdom.   Proverbs 4:7 Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. In the book of Proverbs, wisdom is personified (looked at as though it was a person)as a woman who would bring many blessings when heeded and curses when it was rejected.  It is contrasted to three types of persons; the inexperienced, the mockers and fools, all of which reject wisdom and its ways, and ultimately end in death.  Life is full of challenges and difficulties and wisdom will enrich the journey while life without it will be an endless struggle and ultimate defeat.