Two Paths: Discover the Way that Leads to Life Excerpts from Chapter 1: Choosing Your Path
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. ~ Psalm 16:11
Get Wisdom Most people don’t understand their crucial need for wisdom and discernment, especially in this information—and misinformation—age. Look at Proverbs 4:7–8:
“The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight. Prize her highly, and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her.”
The very beginning of becoming wise is to realize that you need wisdom! “Get wisdom … get insight. Prize her highly …” So where do we find wisdom?
Not long ago, my wife, Leanne, and I decided to kayak on Pitt Lake, just a twenty-minute drive from where we live, yet new for us. I had heard from others that there was a lovely river and campground accessible on the other side of the lake. I quickly looked at a map, and it seemed straightforward: cross the lake and paddle up the stream to the campground. However, after we crossed the lake, I couldn’t see any river opening. We turned north and traveled along the shore until we found the mouth of a creek, but it didn’t go anywhere and quickly became too shallow. So we turned south and eventually found the river behind a little island I had overlooked on the map. By this time, it was getting late, so we paddled back across the lake and went home.
BONUS TIP: Hoping for the best should never be called a plan.
You can be sure the next time we went to Pitt Lake—on a beautiful, sunny day in October—I was much more prepared! I studied a map carefully, noted a better angle to cross the lake, and ensured I knew how far it was up to the campground. As expected, we easily found the river opening and proceeded up the river.
At one point, we could choose between two river channels that looked relatively equal in depth and width. I suddenly wished I had a map with me, but fortunately, as we got closer, we saw a sign pointing to the left for the campground. So helpful!
We continued up the river, laughing and having a great time. However, it was still quite far, and I wondered if we should turn back soon. Just as I was about to give up and turn around, two guys in a canoe came around a bend towards us, so I asked them how far to the campsite. “Like, two hundred meters,” they said, “just around that bend.” Great! So we paddled a little further, found the campsite, had a nice little break wandering around, took a few photos, ate a snack, and headed back.
What did it take for us to get to the campsite? A map, a sign, and a couple of friendly canoers. Then it just took some effort paddling. Similarly, we find wisdom through the maps, signs, and people God provides for us. His Word is like a map, his Spirit in us is like a sign, and his people—the community of believers—are also there to help us, encourage us, and keep us headed in the right direction. Wisdom comes from him.
. . .
One of the most foolish things I’ve done was choosing to ride my motorcycle to college, riding 1,500 kilometers in just over a day. I had just finished an exhausting summer at camp, and I needed to get to school in thirty hours.
I was young and strong, so how hard could it be? I calculated that I only had to average about fifty kilometers per hour to get there on time, so I could travel at about one hundred kilometers an hour and have plenty of time for breaks. I would drink lots of coffee, which would carry me through the night, and hey, I had ridden a few hundred kilometers before, so what was 1,500?
It was a grueling trip, and it could have killed me. I rode through the mountains in the middle of the night, and I was so cold that I tailed closely behind a semi-truck for a windbreak. By the time I found an open coffee shop at about 5:30 a.m., I was shivering and shaking so much that I could barely even hold my coffee or take a sip. A few hours of riding later, I was so sleepy that I had to pull over to the side of the highway and lie down for an hour or so while the trucks thundered past me. Not wise!
BONUS TIP: Don’t do that.
I finally made it to college and to a meeting I was required to attend—on time. What an accomplishment … at the risk of my life! That night as I slept in my dorm room, I hit my head on the side of my desk without even waking up. When I finally awoke the next day, I had a nasty cut beside my eye and blood on my pillow. It probably served me right.
KNOWLEDGE IS NOT WISDOM
There is a vast difference between knowledge and wisdom. Sometimes knowledge and wisdom are used interchangeably, but there are two different concepts here we need to distinguish.
Knowledge means to obtain information, which is easy to do. I can find out almost anything I need or want to know in a few seconds online. If I wonder about an actor in a movie I’m watching, before the scene even changes I can pull out my phone and find out his name, what other roles he’s been in, his birthdate, where he grew up, and much more.
Wisdom, however, goes beyond knowledge. It’s the proper or sound application of information. It means seeing two or more paths, understanding where each leads, and choosing the one that will take you where you should go. It’s making the best decisions based on the information you have and getting more information if you need it.
Knowledge understands the force of gravity and how falling a great distance can injure or kill a person. It acknowledges fences along a cliff and signs warning about the danger of getting too close to the edge. But that knowledge only helps a person if they are wise enough to heed the warnings and stay on the safe side of the fence. A person can be very knowledgeable yet still very foolish.
I knew how to ride a motorcycle, how far I needed to go, and the speed I needed to average to make it to college on time. But it was foolish to try to get there in such a short time, especially given my exhaustion and inexperience traveling such a distance. I would have been wise to leave camp earlier or take a bus instead of riding my bike that far. Unfortunately, wisdom is not highly sought-after in this world.
When I was growing up, prude was an insult for someone who refused to follow the crowd when they were drinking, smoking, or otherwise acting foolishly. Interestingly, prude comes from prudence, another word for wisdom. Being wise has never been considered cool, and those who don’t follow the crowd will usually be resented.
Knowledge only takes us so far. Wisdom is essential as we chart a course for our lives and make daily decisions that affect our journey and ultimate destination. . . .
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