New Journey – growing a spiritual life

I went for a walk today in the wintry rain.  Not alone. Fenway (the dog) was with me.  Every step I took, he gently brushed my yoga pants…trying to shield himself from the elements.  Little did he know, that God made his hair like a sponge that absorbed every drop that the cloud wrung out.  The walk was brisk and mind clearing – a must before words hit paper.

On the threshold of a new year..and the internal question remains:  What Is my life growing?   This season of parenting is always dynamic -where our boys needs/wants are so different.  I lean on Todd for the roadmap – and I lean on God to provide the fruits of the spirit when I’m starving and I remind myself that being present is where the gift is.   The touch of kindness that I can offer in any moment is all that is really lacking.

For many years, I’ve read like my life has depended on it.  I have listened to many philosophers, Christians, poets and novelists as a GPS in my life and left the Bible as a touchstone.  I can honestly say that I never read the Bible from cover to cover.  It seems daunting, overwhelming and too structured for a free-spirited, rebel heart.  The Bible, for me, has been a point of reference when a verse is brought to mind or when the spirit blows a page open and my eyes see a word highlighted  (my mind beckons me to believe that it was more than a coincidence).

Howevever… here I am, closing out 2018 with a bit of anxiety in my heart…worrying about friends health, my health, parenting our boys pre-college (I now know why my parents paid for driving lessons) scratching my head wondering what’s up with all the divisiveness in our country?  Questioning truth, wanting wisdom, searching for justice and where God is in all of this.  As a door shuts in my creative life (not renewing my store contract at The Art Market in Nashville come January) it has me looking up.  Not out. I don’t want to fill time with a temporal fix or paint with a broad stroke “love conquers all”.  More is needed…like understanding who is this God that sets the universes in motion… who is the God that loved us first? what is His will for me?  Us?  Am I moving closer or farther way from Him in my choices.. in my community?

So, I can think of no other way around it.  But to “grow”  through it.  To read the Good book from cover to cover.   I’m excited to see what it plants and any wisdom that I can blog about – will be right here.    Like Fenway using me as a shield from the elements, I am certain the Bible will be a shield, sword and saving grace in the days ahead as I journey towards growing a spiritual life.

I want to start with a few words about the Book of Genesis and that tree -you know the one with the forbbiden fruit planted in the middle of the Garden of Eden.

The only limit that God placed on Adam was eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which apparently imparted divine wisdom.   Evil is very deceptive and quite the tricky teddy.  It took Eve’s eye off all her abundance in the garden and painted a picture that God was selfish and didn’t want people to be more knowledgeable than He.  So, evil tempted and was able to get teeth to chomp down on one piece of forbidden fruit.   Eating the fruit represented man and women’s rejection of God as the source of Wisdom.  Man choose to pursue wisdom apart from God.

Let me repeat that…

Man choose to pursue wisdom apart from God.

This prompted me to dig deeper.  With our family’s race for good grades, quest for specialized knowledge, hunt for scholarships and ringing the bell of college acceptance –  What does the Bible say?  Are we pursueing wisdom apart from God?  What the heck is the difference between wisdom and knowledge?  And my favorite… Isn’t it better to be kind than right? 🙂

I’ll refer to the book – “Getting Involved with God” by Ellen F. Davis to weigh in.

Ellen says, “The Bible shows no interested whatsoever in abstract knowledge – that is, in knowledge abstracted from goodness…. Israel was not interested in any form of knowledge that is abstracted from the concrete problem of how we may live in kindness and fidelity with our neighbors, live humbly and faithfully in the presence of God.”

In addition, the 4th century theologian Augustine of Hippo said that the difference between wisdom and knowledge – “True wisdom is such that no evil can ever be made of it”  Abstract knowlege is not inherently evil; it is problematic only in the knowledge has no intrinsic relationship with goodness.”

The books goes on to show examples of advancement in technologically and how we are using it to manipulate the world and “satisfies it own appetite” to elevate toward dominance/power.   Like the atomic bomb or social media.

Why do we choose knowledge… is it the doorway to success?

All depends on the intention and how you define success.

Success in the Bible is not the worldly success that we know (Hawaiian beach houses and alphabet soup after name).

Bible success (Book of Proverbs) is the establishment of righteousness, justice and equity.  The one who is wise is successful at goodness not power.

The take home:  In the hope of growing a spiritual life  – not pursuing wisdom apart from God,  questions should be asked: when pursuing a field of study/vocation -what good would your knowledge in the world lead to?  Would it help the needy?  The sick?  The broken-hearted?  Could your knowledge create something that’s harmful to the world?  Could it be used for evil? Does this knowledge make you feel more powerful/important than another? (feed your ego) or does it make you feel empowered to help/serve well? (feed your soul).

How will you measure success?  Service, smiles, sharing provisions…. and of course, by being kind more times that you were right.