Wisdom is God's gift, but the way of wisdom is chosen. We are created in the image and likeness of God. Wisdom, the queen of the virtues throughout the books of Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job, is highly prized throughout Scripture. When the Apocrypha is included, wisdom appears in the text of the Bible almost 400 times.*
Consider the Epistle of James a New Testament version of wisdom. From its beginning, we are encouraged to ask God for wisdom. And here is the description of that wisdom: "Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace." James 3:13-14, 18 NRSV
Without the capacity to learn and grow, life is dull, futile and even dangerous. Without a capacity to learn, how do I know about the wrongs of the past, or, take action to right them? But with wisdom, there is clarity.
God's wisdom can uncover overlooked, but significant aspects of my life. The way may not be easy to see, but it is there. I need to have the eyes of my faith opened to what I cannot see. The One who knows me also knows my limits and my gifts, what can be sustained and what cannot. My true gifts and values often provide the best guide.
Wisdom often calls me to seek out a new way. It may be a "third way," another option between two choices. Adding a third way is more inclusive of various factors. It gets me out of either-or thinking. A third way may be the resolution to refrain from the decision-making process for a time. This may come as a result of being too confused or depleted to make a sustainable decision immediately.
The experience of spiritual direction is very beneficial in Christian discernment. It encourages me to go deeper in my communion with God and my life with others. Its gifts and blessings encourage me to look beyond the temporary; they are meant for the long journey.
More questions to consider in my discernment process:
1. Ask for God's help in claiming-reclaiming your true values and gifts.
2. Is the decision an emergency? Must it be made immediately- or not?
3. What option can I sustain (not just live with)?
4. What would a third way look like?
5. Who is most- and less- affected in this decision?
6. What will work for deeper peace within?
7. Which decision makes me freer and more open to the future?
*When the Greek- written Apocrypha is included. See also Oremus Bible Browser. In most Protestant churches, the Apocrypha is considered secondary, and separated from the list of canonical writings. In Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican Bibles, these books are recognized as Holy Scripture.
For further reading, consider Pope Francis, Let Us Dream: The Path to a Better Future, 2020. Especially helpful are Part I: A Time to See and Part 2: A Time to Choose.
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