Thanks for taking time to read this series of posts “55 for 55: Passages of Scripture that mean a lot to me.” Below are the passages that continue in this series. Thanks again and may God bless you as He has done so with me by conveying His love and wisdom to me through the Bible.
51. Proverbs 3:13-18, Proverbs 4:5-9 and Proverbs 8:17: “Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed.”
Proverbs 4:5-9: “Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Cherish her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. She will give you a garland to grace your head and present you with a glorious crown.”
Proverbs 8:17: “I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.”
I’ve held Proverbs 8:17 close to my heart through much of my life (notice I didn’t say “always”… and with much regret!).
Dr. Zodhiates defines Wisdom (Sophia) as “Skills in the affair of Life, practical wisdom and wise management as shown in forming the best plans and selecting the best means, including the idea of sound judgment and good sense.”
From this, I’ve shortened and shared my definition of Wisdom, which means “to become skilled in living.” As the word also implies, Wisdom describes a person as becoming an “expert in any art, craft or trade.”
This has led me to further conceptualize and describe Wisdom as any person standing before a blank canvas, who creates (with God’s leadership, help and guidance) a beautiful picture that depicts their life one brushstroke (one decision, one conversation, one day, etc.) at a time.
Think about it, with each breath we take, God grants us the ability to create something out of nothing, or to create something beyond our past trauma, pain, loneliness, brokenness or hopelessness, simply because we have breath in our bodies. This may mean that we need to access the appropriate people or processes who, when added to the canvas of our lives, gives us hope, meaning, purpose, inspiration, guidance and resilience among other benefits.
I’ve come to realize that learning to apply the appropriate “brushstroke” at the right time to achieve the right outcome in my life will reflect whether or not I’ll demonstrate wisdom or if I’m becoming skilled in living.
So I have a question (or two) for you. Where in your life might you need to grow in wisdom? What person, process or behaviors might need to be added to the “canvas of your life” where their involvement with you will not only reflect a wise outcome, but also reveal to yourself and to others that you’re becoming the person that God wants you to become? Is patience, gentleness or self-control (or another characteristic, value or intimacy need) in the “next brushstroke” that you’d like to apply to your life canvas?
52. 2 Timothy 4:6-8: “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”
I don’t want to be perceived as sounding morbid, but no one knows the day, time or season in their life when God will call them home. One thing’s for sure though, Father time is undefeated and every day that I’m gifted with life is another day where I feel gravity and the effect of gravity calling me to my final (Earthly) resting place!
So let’s stay with Wisdom a little while longer. Some of you have read or have heard that I really like Neo-Freudian Psychologist Erik Erickson and his 8 Stages of Psychosocial (Human) Development. In Stage Eight (Ego Integrity versus Despair, Age 65+), Dr. Erikson shares that Wisdom is the virtue for any human being to develop in this season of their life, which as the age range depicts, tends to be close to the end of their life.
Allow me to share a few words about this stage that I wrote in a book, which is what I get the Apostle Paul to be describing in this verse:
“In this final stage that Erik Erikson composed he stated as people near the end of their life, weighty and unavoidable questions surface that most people give reflection. Some of the questions are along the lines of …
- “What did I do with my life?” or…
- “Am I proud of what I accomplished?”
- “Was my life fulfilling?” and…
- “Did I use my life energy well?”
This stage implores you to contemplate and reflect about your actions and inactions, your resolution and your indecision, your purpose fulfilled or your disregard of intentionality. In this stage, Integrity does not infer your life has been “perfect,” nor free of error, but, with all of the ordeals you may have experienced, drawbacks encountered and choices executed, you have acceptance and resolution because you have given your best in light of the circumstances you have lived through.
Wisdom or “being skilled at living” is the virtue cultivated in this stage, and there are two points I’d like to make about it.
First, Wisdom simply serves to validate the choices you’ve made in your life; you’ve not been perfect, and lemons may have been thrown at you, however, in light of your choices, you’ve made some pretty good lemonade as a result of being in some very sour life situations. It takes knowledge and skill to accomplish navigating through life successfully, and applying the right form of knowledge at the right time, to obtain the right outcomes is akin to being wise.
Second, Wisdom will function as a compass to guide you and others, who may be fortunate to accompany you for the remaining time you have left in your life journey. It is a valuable and powerful opportunity to witness someone who uses their energy intentionally and purposefully, especially in the latter chapters of their life, and the wise person gives this spiritual gift to others gracefully, and with integrity (Proverbs 13:20).
Despair is likely to be experienced when a person realizes their remaining time on earth may be short, and they may not accomplish certain tasks and objectives that are still important to them. Some may experience regret regarding how their energy was misspent, with greater regret over not having the time, energy, resources, or opportunity to correct or revise those matters. Erikson thought that Presumption, the maladaptive tendency in this stage, occurs when a person pretends that he has successfully faced the real issues associated with this stage with integrity, when in reality, he has not. The chief question that represents the struggle in this stage is “Did I live a meaningful life?”
Like Paul, I’d like for my life to be a fragrance that’s pleasing to God.
53. John 19:30: “When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”
I’m sobered by this sacrificial act of love that Jesus provided for me. I’ve heard many sermons on this point that if I were the only person, the last person on Earth, He would give His life for me so that I too may have life.
There are no words for the deep gratitude of this incredible gift given to me. Perhaps words aren’t necessary to say thank you. Perhaps just living a life of gratitude that reflects the generous, kind, loving and wise values that Jesus demonstrated and wants to help me develop and practice is gratitude enough. Somehow, my Spirit tells me this will suffice.
54. 1 Corinthians 15:51-58: “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
This passage and the one below are two of the best passages in the Bible. This one gives me so much hope about the “final transformation” that’ll take place at the conclusion of all of the previous “seasons of fruitfulness” I’ve tried to achieve in my life, and, the final destination where the final transformation will take place.
I don’t fear death (even though there could be some pain and agony associated with how I die). I don’t fear it. To me, death means I’ll be reunited with my daughter Marissa that we lost in 2008, and with other family members who went home prematurely (my cousin David), my Grandmother and her two daughters, my Aunt Lillian and Aunt Sondra. They were a joy to be with on this side of eternity and I can’t imagine what it’ll be like when we’re all reunited.
I look forward to having my son Gabriel live a full, long, peaceful and prosperous life, enjoying every minute of his life, and the relationships that will accompany and be born to him. But one day, he and his family (children and grandchildren) that he loves will join us in eternity. No more separation. No more hurt. No more pain. No more tears. No more.
There aren’t human words that could describe the heavenly experience that we’ll enjoy, but I look forward to learning the new words and everything about this new experience that comes with my transition. As mentioned in #47, for the time being, I’ll work, because its “daytime.” But the night will come one day, when my work is complete. Thank you Paul for describing what will occur when the “day” as I know it is complete for me!
55. Revelation 22:1-5: “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.
No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.”
Thank you for allowing me to share these 55 passages of scripture with you. What part of God’s story impacts you? I encourage you to share your story with others!
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