One of the greatest gifts that has come to me over the years is often void of a price tag—at least not one calculated in dollars and cents. It may have cost the giver greatly because such a gift usually issues forth from a place of deep understanding often brought about through great suffering.
Wisdom through words.
I’ve lived long enough with humanity and bared my soul openly enough therein to realize that not everyone within earshot harbors the gift of wisdom. A rare few possess its strength. I’ve developed some filters along these lines, carefully gauging my pursuit for depth of insight. I’m not quick to trust others with the “answers” I seek. That, in itself, has been a painful lesson to learn, for not everyone I’ve consulted along the way has my best interest in mind. Good intentions, perhaps, but not intention based on the absolute truth of the absolute God.
Thus, before consulting others for advice, I’ve learned to bring my concerns to the Father. He always has my best interest in mind. Accordingly, he has selectively allowed a few individuals to intersect my life with their Godly wisdom and influence. These are the people I trust with my heart… my best interest. Some of them I know personally; some of them I will never meet. Some have preceded me in death; some are currently living but not circulating within my physical realm of contact. All of them, however, share a common thread.
Wisdom through words.
Perhaps more than any other mode of “influence” that works in and through me and, therefore, eventually out of me is wisdom given to me in the form of words. A simple phrase woven with integrity and depth enough to solidify a change of heart—a new way of viewing life, doing life. When my personal perspective shifts in an alternate direction—a right and good direction (and I can almost feel it happening in real time as if a switch is being manipulated)—peace and assurance quickly find their way to my spirit. I am grateful for words that change me, and the more intentional I am about finding them, the more intentional they become about finding me.
I found some words not long ago; in turn, they’ve been working their way in me and through me, and hopefully out of me in some small measure. They came to me via one of my favorite authors, Alicia Chole. Her recent devotional book, Intimate Conversations, is chock-full of devotional pause and contemplative thought (two of my favorite pastimes). In one of her devotions entitled “Near Not Far,” she shares regarding some personal wisdom that arrived in her own heart at a leadership conference through the speaker, Dr. George O. Wood. His advice?
“Focus your vision on what is small not big; what is near not far.” [Alicia Chole, Intimate Conversations (Grand Rapids: Revell, 2009), 150.]
Read those words again slowly to absorb the depth of what God might be saying to you through them.
For Alicia, and for me, it means personally tending to those things, those people, who are within reach. Those activities and lives that can be physically touched by our immediate influence. It sounds relatively simple, “matter of fact” and, perhaps, an obvious approach to daily living. However, the true fact of the matter is that most of us don’t live there, don’t tend to the dailyness of our lives. Most of us live abroad—out there and unaware of the importance behind our everyday “things” and everyday people.
I can only write that last statement because I’ve lived that last statement. Time and again, my focus strays outward believing that the important “stuff” resides somewhere beyond the four walls and the small life that belongs to me. I’ve been a dismal failure in these regards in many seasons of my life. I’ve allowed the lure of “otherness” to rob me of the tangible moments that can best receive my influence—my wisdom and understanding. Otherness is just that. Other things, other people, other ministries, other opportunities that belong to others; not me.
That doesn’t mean I don’t engage with “otherness” when otherness presents itself as an option; it simply and profoundly means that otherness isn’t the driving focus behind my dailyness. Rather, current living, current situations, current people are. They are the stuff of my “small and near”—the tangible touches within reach intended for my greatest investment. When I take the time to devote myself to the “small and near,” then seeds are planted for a future gain that harvests “big and far.” I may not be around to see it all come to fruition, but my seeing it isn’t my goal.
Seeding it is. Doing the work of the kingdom, believing that what is sown today in the “small and near” matters for all of eternity.
It’s taken me a long season to get there… to come to a place of accepting the routine of my life that seemingly proffers more in the “small” rather than the “large.” But through the wisdom of others and the power of God’s Spirit living within me, I am moving closer toward accepting what my life has to offer me. And the last time I checked in with my life, it wasn’t half bad. In fact, it is quite good. Very good.
Wisdom through words.
How thankful I am for those who write them and who live them all the more.
May God continue to invest the power of wise words, his and others’, into our lives as we are faithful in our intentions to seek them out. Have a blessed weekend ministering to your “small and near,” friends. I’ll see you on the other side of mine. As always…
peace for the journey,
PS: Hear a bit of Alicia’s heart regarding Intimate Conversations, and leave a comment regarding your “small and near” for an opportunity to win a copy of the book.