Lord, please fan the flame in my heart that drives me to you. Help me to trust that you are at work in my life even when I cannot see where or how you’re working. Let me be led by love and mercy, kindness and grace. Fill me with hope when I am feeling discouraged. And let the light of Christ shine in and through me for all to see. Amen.
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. (Genesis 3:6 ESV)
Just about every day, I make my seven-year-old son read or play some sort of reading game for twenty minutes. He asks me almost every time I tell him it’s time to read, “Aw, why I gotta read all the time?!” Sometimes I explain it to him, saying that I want him to have every possible opportunity in life, and so much of his future success relies on his being able to read well. I explain that there is only one way to become a strong reader: by practicing a lot. I explain that if he practices reading often, he will grow better and better. I explain that one of these days, Daddy and I won’t be able to spell out things we are saying to each other that we don’t want him to know, because he’ll know what we’re saying! I explain that reading is power—when you can read, you can do just about anything.
Sometimes, I simply respond by saying, “the same reason as yesterday.” Or I give my other favorite response to many of his questions, which comes from watching too many seasons of Law & Order: “Asked and answered, buddy. Asked and answered.”
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I do want to do whatever I can to make it fun, though. So whenever I’m at the thrift store, I keep an eye out for easy readers that are about superheroes. We have Batman. We have Spiderman. And recently, we added a Captain America book to our library of Level I readers.
I had never heard the story of Captain America, so the first time my son read it to me last week was my introduction (and his). Do you know his backstory?
Apparently, Captain America used to be a really weak and clumsy young man. War broke out in America, and he wanted to do his part to help, so he went to sign up for the army, but when he got to the recruitment office, the recruiter told him he was too weak for the army. However, the army was conducting an experiment that he would be a perfect candidate for. He jumped at the chance and was taken to a super-secret location where he was shot with “energy rays.” Immediately, his muscles began to grow, and within seconds, he was a towering man with a narrow waste and bulging muscles. My son thought that was so cool and informed me, “Mommy, that’s real. That really happened!”
This bothered me so much. The message he took away from this story was that somewhere in the world, there is a shot that can make a person big and strong instantly. At first, I just said, “well, actually, baby, that’s not real. There is actually only one way to get big and strong like that, and it doesn’t happen instantly! You have to work hard every day, eating food that’s good for you and building your muscles up through exercise. It takes time and hard work to get big and strong like that! Kind of like reading…”
He pushed back. “But, it’s possible that it’s for real. Just… possible. Maybe.”
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I’ve heard my generation described as the “microwave generation.” We want things fast and easy. But guess what, folks? The microwave generation started when that wily serpent blew his hot air into Mother Eve’s listening ear. She didn’t just want to be wise like God. She wanted to be wise like God now, not by walking closely with God and relying on God and learning from God day-by-day, week after week, month after month, and year after year, but by eating something. Take this fruit and be wise like God.
Does this sound familiar?
Take this pill and lose weight. Take this pill and gain muscle mass. Have this surgery and get the body you want. Take this one-day seminar and learn everything it’s taken me a lifetime to discover. Pray this prayer and the demons will be gone.
I could go on.
My generation did not invent wanting something for nothing, or wanting something fast and easy. It’s as old as humanity itself.
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We’ve embarked on this journey together because we want to grow in wisdom. I’m devoting a year to studying, meditating on, and praying for “wisdom that is from above.” Some days, as I read and contemplate scripture, I feel like I see things so clearly—I get this great revelation—and then the first chance I get to put it into practice, I fail. I do or say exactly the wrong thing. And in those moments, I would give anything for a pill (or a piece of fruit) that would make me into who I want to be.
But it doesn’t work that way. It absolutely does not work that way. Growing in wisdom, like growing physically strong, only happens with time and practice. The encouraging thing is that we are on the right track. Like my son and his reading practice, we are inching along day by day, planting truth into our hearts and minds through scripture study and prayerful meditation, and in time, we will see real growth. I know it.
Fifty-two weeks will not be enough. This is a lifelong journey. But we’re on the right track, growth is happening whether we can see it or not, and something I believe with all my heart is that, if we keep at this all year, we will be conditioned to seek wisdom for the rest of our days.
If you’re feeling at all discouraged in your spiritual walk right now, I hope this will encourage you: good growth never happens quickly. Growing in faith, growing in love, growing in patience, growing in peace, and growing in wisdom take time. The application is really simple: our pursuit of wisdom is a lifelong process. So let’s trust the process. Let’s trust that on the days we can’t see the evidence of growth, growth is happening. As we keep looking to scripture, confessing our sins, humbling ourselves before God, and praying for help, we are growing. God is at work in each of us. Let’s be at rest in that.