Though these last thirty days driving through Proverbs has been fun, it's been one of the harder things I've done (learning dead languages rank higher...).
The book of Proverbs is not a list of predictions. They're proverbs. They're wise sayings and observations about life. I've read them a few times, and I learn new things every time.
These Proverbs address Wisdom and Folly. Yeah, I've mentioned that a lot. But then, I stumble into Proverbs 30. Agar, the son of Jakeh, is someone we don't know much about. What he does sound like is someone who's an everyman, somewhere in the middle between Wisdom and Folly:
"I am weary, God, but I can prevail. Surely I am only a brute, not a man; I do not have human understanding. I have not learned wisdom, nor have I attained to the knowledge of the Holy One." v. 1b-3I am weary.
"Two things I ask of you, LORD; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much disown you and say, 'Who is the LORD?' Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God." v. 7-9
I've been in the middle of a betrayal in a church, which led to its doors being closed. For awhile, I lost hope.
I've had some friends die too young. Death is a horrible, unnatural thing.
I've seen students turn away from Jesus.... hard. My heart aches... longs... yearns... for them to return to the cross.
And yet, here I am. Jesus sustains me fully when I am in despair.
Maybe I'm being overly dramatic.
It's really easy to look back on 30 years and feel like you haven't done much. Social media doesn't help. You see your friends either getting married, popping babies, getting promoted, growing in ministry. It's really hard to not compare yourself.
But, as I continue to be more self-aware, Jesus reminds me of the joys He has given to me:
- A family who loves and supports me.
- Amazing friends, both near and far, who love and affirm me, despite my best efforts to deflect their compliments.
- Fellow ministry brothers and sisters who are being lead by the Spirit in radical, world-changing ways.
- Former students who are leaning into the difficult life that is following Jesus. That warms my heart.
I could spout 30 words of wisdom on what I've learned in 30 years, but my friend Tyler Braun (a better writer with more clarity than myself), did a fine job.
Here's a few of my own:
- Rest. Don't underestimate taking a Sabbath, a period of rest. God gave it to us as a gift. We should use it.
- Ask honest questions. Give honest answers. Be truthful. People within the Body of Christ are more merciful than you realize.
- Slow down. Take in the experience. Remember the details. I'm amazed how much little emotions, small details, and facial expressions, bring out the richness in recalling stories and ideas.
- Grow. I may be an overgrown child, but maturing is essential. It's a weakness as I sometimes forget to stop joking around. Nevertheless...
- Be joyful! You live once. But don't make that an excuse to throw it away carelessly. Live a life worthy of Jesus, who is, himself, a joyful person.
Cheers, Twenties. You've been formative. And memorable. And painful.
And I wouldn't trade it for anything.