My Dear Shepherds,
Somewhere in my distant youth I remember reading 1 Chronicles 1 where God said to the young Solomon, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you,” to which Solomon replied, “Give me wisdom and knowledge.” So, in what turned out to be one of the most important prayers of my life, that is what I prayed for as well.
A couple of months ago our pastor was preaching on Proverbs and came to these verses:
Choose my instruction instead of silver,
knowledge rather than choice gold,
for wisdom is more precious than rubies,
and nothing you desire can compare with her. (Prov. 8:10-11)
As he preached I wondered, So has wisdom been more valuable than silver, gold, or rubies? I couldn’t remember checking my account balance. When I did I was surprised! Did anyone ever tell you when you were young that if you saved a little every week by the time you were old you would be wealthy? That’s what happens in choosing our Father’s instruction.
Let’s go out on a limb here and say you and I have good minds. Imagine what a liability our minds would have been without Jesus. Were it not for Christ, our intelligence, our study, thought, and conversations, would have drained into a swamp. Inevitably, we would have gloried in what is foolishness to God and the message of the Cross would have been folly to us! Our minds, dull to God, might well have done immeasurable harm.
But the Father grounded our minds and consciences in the bedrock of the fear of the Lord. Then, called to be Wordworkers—apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers—we got rich slowly. I calculate that I’ve spent well over 25,000 hours in sermon prep, not to mention all the other Bible reading and memorization. Can you imagine how rich that’s made me!
Preaching made me an inveterate Bible traveler, off to one book after another for a few weeks or months. Then I’d pack away those travel guides, slap a sticker on my old suitcase, and head for another inspired destination. I gathered the currency of each place and stored it in my wisdom strongbox, never really checking how much had accumulated. I saw the mystery of God in a thousand places, all leading to “Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
In all those hours of study, I would often pause, trying to understand some phrase or the deepest significance of a few verses. I’d ask the Spirit, sitting just out of my sight, how I was to proceed, how I was to understand this. Sometimes he sat quietly, forcing me to think, but keeping me company. Then in time I’d hear a voice behind me whispering, “This is the way; walk in it.” Like rubies.
Over and over you and I have pressed into the long-hidden mystery, “Christ in you the hope of glory.” Again and again we peered into the Pearl of great price and made ourselves at home in the lavish rooms of Scripture’s palace. We looked at the Word’s works of art— the garden and mountain, the feasts and sacrifices, priests and kings, the temple, the Redeemer and the redeemed, and the vast canvas of the kingdom of God.
These words and ways of God gradually settled into our senses and sensibilities, building on the fear of the Lord. We slowly grew in holiness. And little by little we gathered nuggets better than gold. No one would ever suspect shepherds could have squirreled away such wealth!
Be ye glad!