Wisdom can be found in the most unlikely of places. Truth will jump out at us sometimes when we are least expecting it.
The Holy Spirit can sometimes tell us something even when we are not directly invoking his guidance. We may just find ourselves surprised and suddenly grasped by an unexpected utterance or action which overwhelms us by how right it is.
|It does not have to come from the Bible, the Creeds or the Hymn Book. But if it does strike us as undeniably true, then we will also discover that it is consonant with what Holy Scripture teaches and resonates with it. The Bible does not contain everything that should be considered to be true, although we believe that it contains all that is necessary for our salvation. We do, however, also believe that the Holy Spirit is a manifestation of the living God, who still has new things to say to us.|
In such belief, I was a little while ago watching TV, not very attentively, when quite suddenly I was jolted by the truth of something on the screen. I was only half-heartedly attending to what was happening. It was a Canadian film called 'A Three Pines Mystery' starring Nathaniel Parker as Inspector Gamache. I can't remember what the mystery was that he was supposed to be solving. But I was suddenly grabbed by the truth of something he said.
He spoke to his side-kick of four steps to wisdom, the ability to say
(1) I'm sorry, (2) I don't know, (3) I need help, and (4) I was wrong.
And they are all four incredibly difficult to do.
(1) I'm Sorry
I have been struck over the years how hard people find it to say 'I'm sorry'. Most of us don't like to admit that we have done something wrong or that we have reason to be ashamed. We all need to learn to apologise to fellow human beings for the harm and hurt we have caused. However, supremely, we need to say to God that we are sorry for the wrong we do in thought and word and deed, for in the end all our sin is against God and his expressed will (see Psalm 51, 'against thee only have I sinned.')
Repentance, i.e. being sorry, is a prerequisite of being set right with him.
(2) I don't know
To admit that we do not know something is neither a sin nor a crime. None of us, however learned, can claim to be omniscient. In fact, sometimes, to confess our ignorance is a sign of strength and confidence rather than weakness and inadequacy.
Teachers are taught to confess that they do not know, when faced with a question the answer to which they do not know - as long as they promise to find the answer and come back to the questioner with an appropriate response.
There is no shame in saying: 'I don't know.' We may like to project an image of being learned but it is healthier to know the limits of our knowledge, especially when we contemplate the nature and being of God.
(3) I need help
Most people find it very difficult to say that they need help. Yet the older we get the more obvious it becomes that we cannot be independent and self-sufficient. We depend on others for assistance just to go on maintaining life at a physically acceptable level.
As our own powers fade we look to others to provide services that once we performed for ourselves and for our neighbour. They come to us whereas once we went to them.
Most of us have problems with being-done-good-to but there is no shame in recognising that we need help, however loath we are to admit it and however diminished we feel in accepting it.
(4) I was wrong
To look back on things which at the time we thought to be right but now believe to be wrong is painful in the extreme. It feels like the denial of a past of which we are proud. It undermines our sense of self-worth and pride in our achievement to see that what we once held dogmatically to be true, the right course if action, was in fact misguided and emphatically wrong.
We are all fallible human beings. Our actions are not always right. What we think is not guaranteed to be the truth beyond contradiction. So we have to learn to walk humbly and recognise the tentative nature of our assertions.
We need to be prepared, with a Ph.D in Hindsight, to admit that we were wrong.
'I'm sorry.' 'I don't know.' 'I need help.' 'I was wrong.' I believe that I am a bigger, stronger and wiser person when I can say these things and mean them.