Proverbs: Part Four

I just did the calculations on how long my study of Proverbs is going to take me to complete at my current rate: just shy of seven full months. Now THAT is a lot of wisdom!

Part Four – Chapter 3:1-35
Further Benefits of Wisdom

My son, do not forget my teaching,
but keep my commands in your heart,
2 for they will prolong your life many years
and bring you peace and prosperity.

This week I started student teaching at our local high school. After four months, and if I’m successful, I will finally graduate from my program of study, receiving my long sought after Bachelors Degree in Secondary Education. Add this new responsibility to my other self-assigned duties, such as writing for this blog, photography, keeping a clean house and cooking, along with the duties that God has blessed me with in this life, like being a mother, wife and sister in Him, and my free time has all but disappeared.

For weeks now – even before my student teaching began – I’ve been wondering if I should drop something from my schedule, namely portrait photography. In actuality, I haven’t even begun taking pictures of people here in Korea for pay, but I will be soon, and just the planning alone takes up a lot of my brain power. In fact, last week I was late publishing my blog post because I got too distracted with editing pictures. That night I prayed for forgiveness and thanked God for his mercy. You see, I’m approaching a year now since I’ve started Naked I Will Depart, and I made a commitment to God that I would continue to write for Him so long as I felt led to, that this endeavor is within His will. Since my commitment, I have published a post once every week, with less than a handful of exceptions.

I do not feel led to devote extra time to photography. There, I said it. I hate to even write those words because I’m admitting publicly what I know to be true. I’d almost rather live in denial because, quite frankly, I’d rather take pictures than almost anything else. My heaven on earth is spending all day behind a camera and all night editing the photos. Photography is my Superbowl Sunday, my World Cup, my Olympic Games. But when I read the verses above, “keep my commands in your heart…for they will bring you peace….” I hear God speaking to me. I hear Him saying, “Cassi, photography is not what you ought to be focusing on right now and you know it. I’ve blessed you with the opportunity to finish your school, and this, along with your other responsibilities is enough. Listen to my advice and you will have internal peace.” It’s hard to let go and allow God to assume control of our lives, but if we’d just give Him the reins the trip would be so much smoother.

3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.
4 Then you will win favor and a good name
in the sight of God and man.

If you are a child of God, start acting like it. Stop following the masses, being brainwashed by public opinion. Stand up for your family in Christ. Quit doubting. In this way you will earn respect from your peers and your name will be recorded in the Book of Life.

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.

Walk with God everyday. He is your best friend, your confidant. Just as you might call your mother regularly for advice, discuss a matter with your husband or bounce ideas off your educational mentor, you should take your thoughts and questions to the Lord. He will always have time and will always listen. No idea, no question, no comment is too small, nor is it too big. Lean on Him in good and bad times. Know that God is with you wherever you go and be sure that your journey is one that will not be shameful.

7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord and shun evil.
8 This will bring health to your body
and nourishment to your bones.
9 Honor the Lord with your wealth,
with the firstfruits of all your crops;
10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing,
and your vats will brim over with new wine.

When you entrust your time and material possessions to God, giving to Him before all else, you will be rewarded. It’s as simple as that. Again, it’s hard to let go, in this case of your earthly accumulations, everything you’ve worked hard for. But remember, all you have is because of God’s mercy and love for you. Without Him, you would be – and have – nothing. In reality, everything is His anyway. You just have to let go.

11 My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline,
and do not resent his rebuke,
12 because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
as a father the son he delights in.

“I’m doing this because I love you.” Those are the words I heard before and after my parents whooped me with a belt when I was a child. Only now, as a parent myself, do I fully understand this statement.

13 Blessed is the man who finds wisdom,
the man who gains understanding,
14 for she is more profitable than silver
and yields better returns than gold.
15 She is more precious than rubies;
nothing you desire can compare with her.
16 Long life is in her right hand;
in her left hand are riches and honor.
17 Her ways are pleasant ways,
and all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to those who embrace her;
those who hold her fast will be blessed.

The other day my 7 year-old asked, “Mommy, why do all movies have kissing in them?” “Because,” I said, “everyone wants to be in love. Kissing makes a movie great.” We are all pulled by passion, desire and love. Jim Al-Khalili, theoretical physicist and science writer, wrote for The Guardian in 2012. He says, “Biologically, love is a powerful neurological condition like hunger or thirst, only more permanent.” Apparently, his opinion was sought after the 2012 Google search results revealed that “what is love” was the most searched phrase for the year. Verse 15 says that nothing, not even love, is more desirable than Proverbs’ Lady Wisdom. Now that’s saying something.

19 By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations,
by understanding he set the heavens in place;
20 by his knowledge the deeps were divided,
and the clouds let drop the dew.

Because of wisdom the universe as we know it was created. Top that.

21 My son, preserve sound judgment and discretion;
do not let them out of your sight;
22 they will be life for you,
an ornament to grace your neck.
23 Then you will go on your way in safety,
and your foot will not stumble.
24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
25 Have no fear of sudden disaster
or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked,
26 for the Lord will be your confidence
and will keep your foot from being snared.

I began reading the Left Behind series years ago, but Bill was just introduced to it this week when we sat down to watch the movie, which was just released last fall. Of course, the movie did the book no justice, but what movie does? The first time I picked up the series I was a Christian, but I was not confident in my faith. I floundered and I doubted. The book was fascinating however, and I could not put it down, risking car sickness as I furiously turned page after page while Bill drove from state to state during one of our many road trips. I had no idea whether I would be one of the raptured souls when God decided time was up and so, reading about what would happen should I be left behind seemed like good business sense to me. Some nights I tossed and turned during my Left Behind book reading marathon. Would I live to witness the epic disaster that Earth is sure to face? Would I suffer for seven long and grueling years along with the millions who weren’t taken to Heaven on Rapture Day?

I no longer have these worries. If I’m up at night it’s because I’m writing for you on this blog, or because one of my children is sick. I know for a fact that if Rapture Day comes during my lifetime I will not be left behind. The Lord is my confidence. I have faith and I believe that Jesus Christ is my savior.

27 Do not withhold good from those who deserve it,
when it is in your power to act.
28 Do not say to your neighbor,
“Come back later; I’ll give it tomorrow”—
when you already have it with you.

29 Do not plot harm against your neighbor,
who lives trustfully near you.
30 Do not accuse a man for no reason—
when he has done you no harm.

Help those who need it when you can and quit your gossiping. Enough said.

31 Do not envy a violent man
or choose any of his ways.
32 For the Lord detests the perverse
but takes the upright into his confidence.

33 The Lord’s curse is on the house of the wicked,
but he blesses the home of the righteous.
34 He mocks proud mockers
but gives grace to the humble.
35 The wise inherit honor,
but fools he holds up to shame.

If it is the well-being, prosperity, peace and success for yourself and your family that you seek, look to the Godly wisdom in Proverbs. Motivational posters are pretty to look at, but they won’t provide eternal life.

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