We were blessed as a family, on my wife’s side, to hear from Dad as we concluded our time of sharing after the Christmas dinner. Each year we are updated by each family about the past year’s challenges and blessings and given fresh topics for prayer for the upcoming year. Dad Cosman blessed us once again by assuring us of his and Mom’s prayers for each member of our growing clan.
What encouraged me the most was his reminder of their prayers that God would grant us wisdom for the diversity of choices we are all making throughout the year. If there is any lack in our lives, our families, our country, our world–surely it is a lack of wisdom.
Knowledge exists in abundance, in fact superabundance! Who can keep up with all the books, blogs, podcasts, journals, trends, etc.? One must be selective and ‘wise’ in choosing the investment of time, talent and treasure.
As 2016 begins I begin this blog with a 3 day reflection on wisdom from James. I’ve been in this book before, in fact it is a ‘go-to’ book for daily living as part of the whole counsel of God.
In chapter 1, James offers an open-ended, assurance-filled plan for gaining wisdom. The issue at hand appears to be the handling of trials of many kinds, something 2016 may well bring to any individual, family, clan or nation. Hanging-in-there or perseverance is produced through the testing of our faith and the appropriate response to such testing.
Maturity does not come from a gift under the Christmas tree, nor from being one year older. Maturity results from processing wisely, with God’s help, the challenges of life.
I picked up Philip Yancey’s book on prayer this Christmas and agree with him whole-heartedly when he writes – “If prayer stands as the place where God and human beings meet, then I must learn about prayer. Most of my struggles in the Christian life circle around the same two themes: why God doesn’t act the way we want God to, and why I don’t act the way God wants me to. Prayer is the precise point where those themes converge.” (p.17 Prayer – Does It Make Any Difference? Philip Yancey, 2006)
Why doesn’t God act the way we want Him to? Prayer is not our demanding God to change His mind to accommodate us. Even in the life of the Son of God, the One in whom the Father was ‘well pleased,’ we hear a “Not my will, but Yours be done,” submission concerning his life situation.
Why don’t we act the way God wants us to? Prayer is not an escape hatch where we plead for permission to go on in our rebellion. Perhaps you’ve played Monopoly this holiday season and gained a “Get out of Jail” card. Having prayed, we are not free to live as we choose. Prayer is a place of confession, a place of repentance, a place where we cry out “Create in me a clean heart, O God and renew a right spirit within me.”
I lack wisdom, but this does not hinder my asking. If I lack it, I must approach the One who can supply it in abundance. Didn’t get what you wanted for Christmas? Stores offer options of spending money in post-Christmas sales to supply you with your perceived lack of ‘stuff.’ God’s offer in 2016 remains open to any foolish people who know their desperate need.
I take comfort and find joy in this promise on this first day of a new year.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.”
May you find fresh wisdom from God for your life situation in 2016. In the opening page of his book, Yancey cites a great quote by William James – “The reason we pray is simply that we cannot help praying.” In 2016, ‘PRAY without ceasing.”