Oh, how great are Gods riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand His decisions and His ways! Romans 11:33 NLT
In 1999, Lenore and I build a house in Grove City, Ohio and moved our family from the community we had lived in for nearly ten years. We were in our late thirties and really needed to find a church option that fit our family so we took the drastic step of moving to an urban setting where we could hopefully find a church tuned into the culture and willing to do ministry in a way that would be the most effective.
For almost two years we attended a church that seemed to have it all. I was working for a Christian college, Lenore was teaching school, and both of our kids went to school at the Christian School run by our new church. Lenore sang in the choir of 100 plus people and both kids were not only attending youth ministries but they were leading small groups.
Everything seemed to be good in our lives and theirs in particular. For two years or more Lenore and I had felt that God was getting us ready for something else. Sort of a ministry transition and yet we had no idea what it might be. I turned down the opportunity to be a District Superintendent because it didn't seem to be the right door to go through. I turned down a church that we both loved in the Columbus area because it also didn't seem like the right door to go through.
The short version is that I wound up here as the pastor of this church. I started in 2001 and by 2002 we had moved our family and eventually sold our house in Grove City and began again here in Newark.
Without telling the details, let me just say that our first year was one of the toughest adjustments our family ever had to make. Lenore moved into a different school system and although now she is thankful (most days) for that transition the first year was not very much fun. The kids, in 8th and 10th grade at the time, made a transition to a new school and it was not an easy transition. The kids went from a church youth group with seemingly a lot to offer to a non-functioning nearly non-existent youth ministry in this church. Our house didn't sell for nearly 11 months!
In those moments and the days that seemed to never end I had some pretty strong conversations with God. I remember feeling guilty over the fact that we went from three people that were really happy and one of us being miserable to three miserable people and one happy one! I remember thinking, what in the world have I done to my family? and thinking God why did you let me think this was your will? We were walking in obedience to God yet there was this misery factor that just didn't seem to make any sense. Looking back on those days now I think all of us realize that God had His hand in all of that but it sure didn't feel like it.
The classic word about Gods wisdom is this: The wisdom of God tells us that God will bring about the best possible results, by the best possible means, for the most possible people, for the longest possible time.
That's hard to swallow then the wheels appear to have fallen off and nothing seems to make sense. Can you trust God and His sovereignty at that point? More importantly can you trust God and His wisdom to be at work in your life? What you find out if you hang with God long enough is that He knows what He is doing!
What would be different in your life if you really believed that God was all-wise and you could apply that to the most difficult situation you are currently in? What if everything in your life was part of a wise plan? Can you imagine what would happen to your anxiety level and your emotions? Can you even begin to understand what a difference it would make if you were absolutely convinced that a sovereign, good, holy and loving God is producing the best possible results in your life by the best possible means?
The wisdom of God understood will revolutionize your life.
Defining Gods Wisdom
Certain pictures come to mind when you think about a wise man. Most of the time it is some guy with a long beard and gray hair. (not always) Let me try to show you for a moment just how hard it is to figure out the wisdom of God.
Wisdom refers to the way someone uses knowledge and experience. It is the ability to judge rightly and then follow the soundest course of action. Wise people see the big picture and make good decisions.
I want you to imagine there's railroad tracks coming right across here and there's a nice little hill that goes up and on it is a small house where the railroad track man lives. You come across the tracks and there's some gravel and you go up and then there's some steps. Over here is a little booth, and the railroad track mans job is he has a lever and the trains come and his job is to push the lever at the right time so that the tracks slide over so that the trains go off to the north and some trains will go off to the south.
As they come through, he gets radio wires and he hears whats going to happen, but its in old-fashioned times, so he must flick the switch to change the tracks. That's his job. He lives on the little hill and he has a wife and they have a beautiful little four-and-a-half-year-old boy.
Hes doing his job and his little boy is running down the hill yelling for his daddy. He sees his daddy doing his job. Often he would bring his dad his lunch and they would have good times together.
He runs and comes across, he trips on the track and his little tiny foot gets wedged underneath the track. As you and I would look down about 500 yards, there is a train coming at a very high speed. There's not enough time for the father to come down from his post and pull his little boy off that track. He now has a decision to make about what is wisest, what is best, what should he do.
Option number one is that as the train is coming down the track, he could switch it, but if he switches it, because of the track that its on, it would jolt that track and probably 400 or 500 people would go to their death. Its coming at a very high speed. Or he could leave it as it is and as it is he will watch a freight train filled with passengers go right over the top of his son. If he asked you whats the wisest thing to do, what would you tell him?
I didn't say the moral thing to do. I didn't say what he wanted to do. I didn't even say the sacrificial thing to do. Whats the wisest thing to do in this situation? If you were given this question in a life group setting we would discuss it together and come up with the noble and righteous answer that the wisest thing to do though painful and sacrificial for this father would be to experience something like God the Father must have experienced and he should not kill the 400 or 500 people, but he should watch his son die.
Now, that may be the most loving and sacrificial and noble thing to do. I didn't say that. I said, whats the wisest thing to do? There's a difference because wisdom has to do with what? The best possible results for the most possible people for the longest possible time.
Wait a second. What if the kid is the next Billy Graham? If hes the next Billy Graham, would it be better for 500 people to die in a train wreck and possibly millions of people to spend eternity in Heaven? Which would be the wisest? Which would be the greatest benefit long term?
What if this little boy will find the cure for HIV? Would it be better for 500 to live or to have 1,000,000 people or millions of people or to stop a plague that's worldwide? Maybe that's not right. What if there's a person on the train and they have the cure for cancer and they will discover it two years from now? Or what if the next Billy Graham is on that train? Do you see how complicated it gets?
You see all of a sudden were not talking about a train or 500 or 1. Unless you know all things actual and possible, unless you can see the beginning from the end, every one of our lives is like a huge boulder that's dropped into a pond and there are ripples and you make a decision today and that affects children and grandchildren and friends and workers.
We sometimes get caught up in thinking we know whats wisest because we get little windows of truth here and there. We may even jump to conclusions about what must be done. Sometimes we feel the need to lecture God on why He is not stepping up. Next time you feel like that, read the last few chapters of the book of Job where God responds to a question about His wisdom.
For this reason we need to learn to understand and trust the wisdom of God!
How Has God Revealed His Wisdom to Us?
Through His Creation: Ponder creation and you will never cease to be amazed at Gods wisdom. Psalm 19:1 says, The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display His craftsmanship. Psalm 104:24 declares: O Lord what a variety of thing you have made! In wisdom You have made them all. The earth is full of your creatures.
You might think of the creation of the human body when you think of Gods wisdom. The DNA inside a single cell could stretch for miles, and yet all our cells know what to do at all times. Our best computers don't come close to the mystery of the human brain.
Through His Redemption: God bought us back. That is what redemption means. From the foundation of the earth God purposed in His wisdom to redeem us. Our rebellion and sin as human beings has to be judged because of Gods holiness however His goal has always been to restore any that will turn and follow His ways.
Let me try to explain why Gods redemption plan was so wise. Sin and rebellion against God required absolute satisfaction. There had to be a perfect sacrifice. Jesus, Gods Son, died on the cross with His blood as the redemption payment for us. Jesus described it like this: For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45)
Here's the rest of the story. Gods wisdom caught even the spiritual world off guard. Satan and the demonic angels saw the Son of God come, and they probably thought it was a foolish plan, doomed to failure. A teenage girl in a stable? Laughable. A carpenters son? Not a chance.
They were scoffing and scheming while Jesus was growing up like a typical kid. He passed through temptation in the wilderness, chose His disciples, and began His ministry. And Jesus didn't exactly pick out the Einsteins of the world to be his closest associates. He chose a motley crew of fisherman, liars, thieves and an outcast. No doubt Satan was thinking, Were going to crush him. The evil scheme to kill Jesus worked flawlessly, much to the delight of the forces of evil. They laughed while Jesus hung on the cross. We killed Christ and now we are going to win it all.
In Gods wisdom, its better that one might die so that whosoever will might live forever, so Jesus voluntarily paid that price. From a human perspective He failed miserably. When He cried, It is finished from the cross they literally thought God was finished. They were wrong!
Jesus went into the earth for three days. During that time he proclaimed victory over His enemies, He conquered sin, He conquered death and He declared victory. You want to see this wisdom in writing? Look at these words:
13 You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. 14 He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. 15 In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross. Colossians 2:13-15 NLT
How Should We Respond to the Wisdom of God?
So be careful how you live. Don't live like fools, but like those who are wise. 16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. 17 Don't act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Ephesians 5:15-17 NLT
Wise living begins with reverence for God: Write the word reverence. We begin to understand Gods wisdom when we begin to reverence Him and His word. Proverbs 9:10 says that the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord is basically this: you personally accept the fact that He is Creator; Master; CEO of the universe; Hes holy; Hes awesome; and in response to those facts you willfully choose to live your life His way and to submit to the authority of His word.
This starts with a step of faith: Accepting Christ and the salvation He offers.
If you are outside of Christ; get inside of Christ. Turn from your will to His will. Ask Him to come into your life and then be prepared to turn everything over to Him. Reverence for God means that you hold nothing back. You don't get to make up your own way. If God puts His hand on something in your life give it up. Don't take it back. Put it on the altar where it belongs and trust God with everything.
Wise living grows by receiving His word.
Reading suggestion: Psalm 119:97-101 God gives wisdom and He does it through His word. The Bible is your instruction manual. Without the bible you can give all the lip service you want to being a Christian but you cant be one if you don't read the manual. Its more important than ESPN or the Home Shopping Network; The New York Times or even the Newark Advocate for that matter.
Wise living requires that we ask specifically for it.
5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. 6 But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. 7 Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do. James 1:5-6 NLT
Wise living involves remembering to trust God completely.
It's a lesson we need to learn, as well. Our true security comes from God and God alone, so we must learn to trust Him. Don't trust in a lie. Don't trust in an idol. Trust in the Lord. Then and only then will you be truly secure. Think with me for a moment about something that you are experiencing right now that seems so hard. It could be a persistent problem, a wrecked relationship or an agonizing question. What would it look life if you really believed that God is all-wise and has actually allowed the circumstance in your life for a purpose? Gods wisdom will deliver you from a victims mentality.
We will never be able to trust what God is doing in our lives until we make His goal for our lives personal. Gods primary purpose is not to make us happy, healthy, wealthy and wonderful.
God is good. He is sovereign. He is holy. He is wise beyond what we could ever imagine.
Five-year-old Jessica became a bit frightened as lightning flashed and thunder cracked just as she was stepping out of the bath tub before going to bed. The lights began to flicker as she was getting into her pajamas. She remembered other times when they had to light candles after the electricity had gone out. This time, she asked if she could "please sleep in mommy's room."
Then, before kissing her mom good-night, she prayed: "Dear God, I hope it doesn't thunder and I hope the lights don't go out." She paused briefly, then she continued, "But I thought it over, and you can do whatever you want. In Jesus' name. Amen."
That's what it means to trust God. It's letting Him do whatever He wants with my life, my family, and my business. And whenever we do that, whenever we turn it all over to Him, trusting Him to do what's best, then and only then do we find true peace.
The wisdom of God tells us that God will bring about the best possible results, by the best possible means, for the most possible people, for the longest possible time.