Does not wisdom call out?
As an avid fitness enthusiast, I was very excited about my first job interview after graduating from college. I had applied for an assistant manager position at a large fitness club in Atlanta. As I continued to listen to the potential employer, however, I did not so much hear his voice as I heard an inaudible one that spoke to my heart—“Stop … this is not for you.” The interview went well, but as I walked out the door, again the voice sounded even louder—“Stay out!” Watching the six o’clock news that evening, I was amazed to see the man with whom I had interviewed and two employees in handcuffs being placed in a police car. They had been arrested for credit card fraud. That evening in my devotional time I read from Oswald Chambers: “Doubt is not always a sign that a man is wrong; it may be a sign that he is thinking.”
Wisdom called out to me that day. The signs were clear. I’m glad I was paying attention. What amazes me more nowadays is not so much that wisdom calls out but rather that I still fail to see the signs or read the signals that Sherry gives me at times. One of the great antidotes for my stubborn rebellion over the years is to return often to the book of Proverbs and other books like My Utmost for His Highest by Chambers and Every Man’s Battle by Arterburn.
“At the highest points along the way, where the paths meet, she (wisdom) takes her stand.” (Proverbs 8:2) At those crossroads of life, wisdom will guide the person who seeks it. That observation does not imply that life will always be easy. Sometimes it feels like the bottom of the ninth, and we’re trailing by two with two outs. If we rely on faith and wisdom, however, we gain a rich inheritance of honor and sound judgment which ultimately is of greater value than anything we might acquire without it. Worldly riches can quickly fade away, yet faith and wisdom are an “enduring wealth” not dependent upon circumstances.
Faith and wisdom work hand-in-hand. Again, Chambers says, “Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time.” We will be called many times in life to exercise faith. True faith is never blind faith, as the skeptics would say. The true danger in this situation is not so much that we cannot see the signs but that we will not believe that God gives wisdom to those who seek it.
Through faith and wisdom we stay in the game. The one who is wise increases in wisdom. He seeks after it as a great treasure with the faithful assurance that in seeking he will find it. A game is there for the winning; in that game, you and your wife are on the same team.
In the past few years, I have recognized that many times in my life I have sought the counsel of others without considering the incredible wisdom that is available to me in my wife. Many times I have sat with her to share a “new insight” I had gained from visiting with a friend. In the early years she would remind me that she had recently told me the very same thing but that I wasn’t listening. Guys, listening in any setting is a key to wisdom; furthermore, listening to your wife is a key to great joy and blessing for your marriage. I cannot even begin to imagine how hurtful it was for Sherry that I could hear what others were saying but not what she wanted to communicate. Nowadays she doesn’t do much reminding, because she too is growing in wisdom, but also because I have realized that she is my senior counsel when I need the insight of another person.
Sherry is not only my senior counsel; she’s also a great coach. Most wives are if we men pay attention. I don’t want to toot my own horn, but I think I’ve gotten better with age at reading the signals Sherry sends my way, but I still miss them if I’m not paying attention. I enjoy watching professional coaches swiping their arms and touching their ear, their cap, and their belt buckle in rapid succession as they signal a bunt or a go-ahead run. I’ll admit I’m not that good. For me it’s more little-league speed. Nice and slow, coach.
To this day, when I am speaking in public and Sherry is in the audience, I know I need to wrap up when she touches her right ear. When she touches her brow, I need to move to the next point. Most times I read the signals correctly, but sometimes I don’t. Marriage is that way. We don’t get it right all the time. Sometimes you’re just not sure what the signal is, but if your attitude is one that believes you’re both in this game to win, then you don’t let defeat enter your mind.
A great illustration of how this confidence works was seen in the seventh game of the 1992 NLCS, the Braves vs. Pirates. The play still stands out as one of my all-time favorite moments in Braves baseball. The Pirates’ pitcher, Doug Drabek, had shut the Braves out for eight innings. The game was at the bottom of the ninth with two outs. Dave Justice was on third; Sid Bream, the winning run, was on second. Francisco Cabrera cracked a line drive to left; Justice scored; and Sid Bream rounded third, sliding into home inches from the ball thrown by Barry Bonds to win the NLCS and head to the World Series. Bream later said, “A lot of people asked me over the years, ‘Why didn’t you stop when (third-base coach) Jimmy Williams gave you the stop sign?’ To this day I don’t know if he gave me the stop or not.” It was an amazing win, especially given that Bream, with five knee surgeries under his belt, was not that fast, according to his own admission.
As husbands, none of us are “that fast,” so we sometimes miss the coach’s signals. Proverbs 8:1 raises the question, “Does not wisdom call out?” It’s not a call to perfection or to read every signal accurately. It’s a call to stay in the game when you’re trailing in the bottom of the ninth.
That winning run opened incredible doors for Sid Bream. He would be the first to tell you that had he not been the man that scored that run, he would have retired a few years later and faded into the history books as just another player. He tells folks now that as he stood on second, he was thinking, “This team has had a never-say-die attitude all year long. We’ve come from behind before. We can do it again.” When he took his lead off second, he was thinking that on contact he was going all the way, and the rest, as they say, is history.
I almost envy newly married men who are just getting started in the marriage league and already have a firm grasp of the importance of reading the signals. For me and many of my friends, it has taken longer; we have missed the signals so many times. Thankfully some of us have that “never-say-die attitude.” Slowly but surely, we are learning that one of the greatest ways to demonstrate wisdom in our own lives is to tap into the wisdom that God makes available to us through our wives.
Maybe you have spent years missing the signals your wife sends your way. Stop beating yourself up over all the missed signals. Wisdom never calls you out to beat you up but rather to build you up. You’ve got a game to win, even if you are down by two runs. When the history of your life is recorded, what will the story tell? Will it be one of overcoming power displayed in the life of a man who believed even when he was down? Will it be one that your fans will share with fond recollection and inspiration? Oh, you think you don’t have fans? They’re there all right—your wife, your children, one day perhaps your grandchildren, the guys at the office, the neighbor who’s limping worse than you. They may be a bit excited to see you standing on second base, with limited chances but great hope, to pull a play off. If you’ll step off that base, then, and take the lead, you might just be surprised to see your fans cheering you on. The game-winning run is rounding third if you have faith enough to believe.