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The Numbering of Wisdom

The Numbering of Wisdom October 8, 2015

Home safely, by the grace and mercy of God, and about to leap up and drive all over town collecting the children. Hope they’ll be happy to see me, and not cry for several minutes like the dog did when we walked in the door. He kept on howling and bawling so that I had to hold him even while trying to remove my contacts. When I finally collapsed my harried brow onto my pillow, he pressed himself against me and tried to kill me through suffocation. I assume that was his purpose since I kept finding I was unable to breathe, his wretched amount of fur pressed firmly onto my face. Hopefully forgiveness, for both of us to each other, will be forth coming.

The best part of these three days away–and I should interrupt myself to say that all of it was good, every talk, every moment of the daily office, all the food, all so refreshing–but the moment that has fixed itself in my mind as a light for me to stumble along behind was the exposition of the verse (and I’m not going to look it up because I’m lame)

“Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

The plain, unadorned truth that we are all going to die, yea, even I myself shall perish at some point (and I always feel that moment is much too close whenever I’m in the way of having to be landing in a gigantic metal tube in the middle of the night in Binghamton, there’s something about the way every plane has to make its descent onto this particular runway that shatters all my confidence in life as something that will definitely keep going on) was an unexpected comfort. The fact is, almost anybody can tolerate almost anything for a while, even life. But more critically for me, when you forget that time is limited, short even, you might, as I do, spin away each moment in the foolishness of regret, or anxiety, or petulance.

Certainly when I am in the atrium, knowing that I have only one single hour, I am very careful with each of the minutes in that hour. What are the most essential words that may be said? What is the most beautiful work that a child may chose? Where are the moments of silence? And singing, did we sing what was most true and lovely? If you have only one single hour, you can’t clutter it up with a lot of foolishness, with a story about Suzy and Johnny and a coloring page and a snack. The hour has to hold, has to contain, the fullness of the gospel, all the words that can give life, and none of the words that will confuse and confound.

If my life, similarly, is only one single hour, then what (and pardon the profanity but I think it is theologically appropriate) the hell am I doing? Why am I fussing all the time and being overcome by the stress and the tiredness? Gosh, if I’m really tired, would it kill me to take a nap instead of screaming at everybody? Apparently, for the last many months, I was under the impressing that it would, that the only way to keep from perishing was to keep working and worrying in equal measures. My life has turned into the Anti Atrium, the opposite of wisdom.

The trouble with God is that he’s not interested enough in my productivity. He’s not counting up all the stuff I did, that I ticked off my list, and then congratulating me at the end of the day for my goodness and the incredible pile of stuff that I achieved. He is more interested in me not wrecking the lives of others and not spending my time fussing over what I should be doing next. Knowing it is not in my power to do good, to do the things I should be doing, God unfurls the underlying wisdom of repentance and the gospel. Numbering the days isn’t about fitting more in, it’s about seeing, as clearly as possible, that you, well, me, that I cannot do what I’m called to do, I cannot obey, I cannot chose good, I cannot keep away from sin, but God is desirous to save and will rescue me when I cry out to him. There isn’t ever a wisdom that moves beyond the gospel. And yet I am always trying to push past, push on, get going, achieve something spectacular for Jesus, cough.

Still, I can’t be too hard on myself. There has remained through all the foolishness, the continual glory and wisdom of Luncheon. For heaven’s sake, and not for hell’s. And now I will go gather my offspring from the far flung corners of Binghamton.
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