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Wisdom In The Balance
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When I look at what all these people (men and women of great wisdom) seem to have in common, I see some patterns; ready tears and laughter; the ability to see things from another’s point of view; the ability to feel another’s pain; enjoyment of the humor or absurdity in a situation, and the grace to point it out with gentleness; the skill of knowing one’s own limits; generosity of spirit and gifts; comfort in his or her own skin; a lack of jealousy; a disciplined life. In short, they have developed a sense of balance, which might be the best definition of wisdom. All things in balance is the opposite of the bloated excess that is foolishness.

Wisdom understands that life is both tragedy and comedy, humor and pathos, like a good play or movie. Every moment contains the capacity for joy or for heartbreak, and this very tension is what makes life so full. Life positively vibrates with possibility. The human condition is fraught with meaning, and if it was worthy of God’s full attention isn’t it worthy of ours?

Children, as well as new believers, seem to have a better sense of this balance than most adults. In our experience in house church, it is often one of the children, or one of the new Christians, who says the wise thing. A wise friend of mine challenges me to state the truth in the simplest terms when I am facing something overwhelming. “I feel afraid.” “Your words hurt me.” “If the worst thing happens, I will still be okay.” Children know instinctively that sometimes the wisest thing to say or do is staring us in the face.

One night at house church, a man was pouring out his heart about a personal and diffi cult issue. We listened with sympathy and concern, feeling helpless and unsure of what to say or do. Finally one of the younger children, who clearly had no idea of what was happening in grown-up terms, said simply, “Why don’t we just pray for him?” So we did. Our spirit of helplessness was lifted.

My youngest son is often wise beyond his years. I was putting him to bed the other night, trying to get him to quit bouncing around long enough so I could ask him if he had already brushed his teeth. Finally, I got his attention, and he suddenly stopped bouncing and answered breathlessly, “Yes, I brushed my teeth, but I want to know: is love a noun or a verb?”

“Ah,” I said, trying to sound wise. “You have asked the question of the century, my son. I think,” drawing it out for emphasis, “that it is both.” A moment of silence while he pondered this.

“I knew it,” he said, looking smug. “I knew it was both, because it is something you can have, but it is also something you can do.”

(excerpted from the book A Collection of Wednesdays: Creating a Whole from the Parts by Amy Gaither Hayes, Zondervan)