We often assume that the wisdom which comes with age is primarily a type of wisdom which is given in order to “ride the brakes”. This wisdom is evidenced as a regulator, a cautionary force. This side of wisdom slows down the potentially erratic or reckless steps that are typical of a younger person who might be acting independently of matured wisdom. I am not so sure that I would always call this cautionary impulse wisdom. My personal opinion is that this type of wisdom may actually be something that is only one small step away from being nothing more than fear – an eloquently expressed reason why challenges should be avoided and all risks minimized. People with this type of approach are often regarded as being tempered, grounded and prudent. Granted, we do need this type of wisdom to be exercised at times. But what do we do when that presumed aspect of wisdom is constantly ruling the day in our lives, our dreams, our Kingdom relationships or the ministries given to us by God?
When I read my Bible I also see a wisdom that serves as a gas pedal, not a brake. Wisdom to discern opportunity. Wisdom to trust God against impossible odds. Wisdom to advance against an army and scale a high wall (Psalm 18:29). In the Bible, God actually had to talk some people out of their timid, calculating “wisdom” just to get them up to the plate to take a swing at a mission He was offering them. Gideon had his reasons for hiding in the threshing pit. Moses was too old, too shelved and too slow of speech to accept the call of God. Jeremiah declared that he was too young when God called him. While Esther eventually walked into the presence of the king, her cousin Mordecai had to prod her a bit before she did so. All these believers seemed to be exercising their version of wisdom while God appeared to be exercising reckless abandon to commission them to works for which they did not feel suited. The type of presumed wisdom that is always seen calculating, measuring, weighing, balancing and regulating might seek to talk Paul out of going to Macedonia, or reason with David to leave Goliath alone in the valley, or perhaps encourage Moses to appeal to his sovereign God for a second ark in order to cross the Red Sea, rather than holding his staff over it to part the waters. I’m concerned that the “young men” who were affirmed for their strength in the battle against the evil one by John (1st John 2:14) might be being talked down from the call to fight. The Christian journey is not often safe and tidy. Spiritual warfare never is. Yet the proposition of this type of wisdom often seems to be little more than a lisping call to self-preservation, intellectual reason, safety and secured circumstances.
I sometimes feel like the Church has been neutered. Where did all the wild Kingdom radicals go? Who domesticated the Church in America? It wasn’t the Holy Spirit.
We need some Joshuas. We could use a few more Deborahs and Esthers who put everything on the line for a cause greater than themselves. How about some Mary Magdalenes who rushed to the tomb of Jesus before any of those brave boys among the disciples did? Barnabas sold all his land and donated it to the advance of the Gospel – some Christian financial advisors today would have told him that there was a wiser path available to Barnabas to secure his future. Peter & John left their jobs and started fishing for souls. Paul forsook his reputation, his personal safety, his position and credentials in order to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He kept pressing on toward the mark of the prize of his own calling in Jesus Christ. Paul’s wisdom carried him forward and he never stopped until the Roman executioner ushered him to Heaven’s gate with a strike of the sword. Now that I’m focusing my thoughts on this issue, I cannot think of a single notable Bible character who has impacted my life that is seen in scripture as one who exercised wisdom to play it safe.
Young people: you bear the brunt of the war. I’m middle aged now and the only people who think I am young are getting on up there themselves. You are the young ones and it’s usually been the call of the young in each generation to carry the load. Let’s not break that New Testament trend. You must embrace reformation in the Church. Along with those of us who have some extra years on us, we need you to risk your personal whatevers for something greater than your own lives. Listen to the older generation when they impart legitimate wisdom which breeds courage in you. Older saints: our call is to offer wisdom and to exemplify courage to the younger. I say this respectfully: they need our example to inspire them in how to finish their own races when that time comes. Please, let’s model courageous wisdom for them. They are desperate to see it, and to not be bound in the prison of us modeling comfort and safety as the greatest virtues of Kingdom living. While the tendency of the young might sometimes be to be hasty or reckless, the tendency of the older is sometimes to live in fear of the unknown. When the fear of the unknown in one person begins to smother the pulse of courage in another, the result is never favorable and the mission of Jesus Christ suffers. Like it or not, all of us are engaged in warfare. We cannot afford to fight with one another anymore. We have to operate in the strength, wisdom and experience that the Lord cultivates in us. The best I can tell, the battle goes on from generation to generation until the Captain of the battle puts down the last vestiges of the rebellion. We – younger and older – will stand in the presence of His glory and we all want to hear Him declare that, as faithful servants, we served Him well unto the very end.
No looking back. No turning back. No drawing back. The battle is not going away and we need wisdom that moves forward.