Wisdom flows from what is read, heard, absorbed and experienced. For me, intentionally carving out time to journal, listen and meditate before deciding allows wisdom to take root. Some of my best ideas for counseling and blogs (where I rely heavily on wisdom) occur while I’m in the shower or on my knee-pad, wearing garden gloves with a trowel in hand. Evidently, the Intuitive mind is more receptive when involved in hands-on projects. We never outgrow the need for fresh, sound wisdom as we deal with the challenges presented by the crises of life and especially now dealing with the upheaval and loneliness caused by the Covid-19 Pandemic. For me, the wisdom-path most often prompts toward practical decisions and action.
Closely related to needing wisdom beyond ourselves happens when strong impressions hit us propelling us into immediate action. Can you remember a time when you received a strong impression that you should call, go see someone or not go somewhere and then you became aware of how fortunate and wise that decision was? Think it over. Paying attention to our own and others’ impressions is interesting and I think very important. Sometimes, we have to jump into a situation without heads-up time, so keeping ’preparedness’ current allows us to maintain a sense of calmness and make wise, practical decisions.
I recall a strong impression in the early 1960’s. On a Saturday morning I was chatting with Papa Ward, Jim’s 93-year-old grandfather visiting us for the weekend while we still ministered in Verhalen while he and I snapped green beans. He complained that his daughter in Odessa just wanted him to sit in a rocking chair all day. “I don’t want to do that.” Then, he said, “I talked to Sally last night and told her I’d be seeing her soon.” His wife, Sally, had been gone for many years. I just listened. He was in excellent health and I thought about saying, “Well, it will be a long time before you’ll meet her, Papa,” but I didn’t. In fact, Papa was waiting for Jim to pick him up in the butane truck to make the run to fill some tanks. Papa loved to be with Jim. They had a nice day together on the truck. He heard Jim preach the next day. That evening after church, while he went upstairs to get ready for bed, I sent the kids up to tell him ice cream was ready. The kids came down saying “Papa won’t wake up”. His impression—premonition--was right-on. He kept his date with Sally. We sprang into action figuring out what to do, who to call and getting our children to friends.
Fast forward to December, 2019 and an adult granddaughter’s strong impression. We had noticed Jim’s difficulty with his left side which involved dressing, putting his shoes on and follow through. The weakness was affecting his ability to drive as well, but his mind was still sharp. He continued participating in church activities, especially verbal prayers. “Grandma, get your back surgery moved up before Grandpa becomes worse”. Back surgery was not until mid-January. She called the next day to see if I had done it. Amazingly, the surgery did get rescheduled for January 7. We learned later how critical her urging would be.
Son, Roger, informed me he was coming to be with me during my surgery, since now it was falling during his spring break. I needed Roger not only to drive me to the hospital but more importantly to be with Jim while I was gone. I returned home the night before Roger had to get back to his students. I resumed being Jim’s caregiver at the same time I was supposed to be recovering. I cannot even remember anything I wasn’t able to do, except I wasn’t permitted to drive for a week. I’ve never recovered from other back surgeries so quickly. I was unusually strengthened physically and able to assume household duties. Granddaughter’s strong impression was right. Jim and I enjoyed being together.
After just five weeks a friend’s impression moved us along after I shared that Jim had a crooked smile. He suspected stroke-like symptoms and urged me to get him to the ER immediately by ambulance. Jim acquiesced to his first ambulance ride and told me later that the ambulance driver took the long way around to the hospital. Jim didn’t have a stroke, but the brain scan revealed brain tumors, the furthest thing from our mind. The next day, another friend appeared at the hospital informing me that she was impressed to spend the day with Jim and me. She came equipped with note book, snacks and encouragement. I had no way of knowing how much we would need her. With the neurosurgeon team explaining where the tumors were, a biopsy, meds needed and decisions to be made, she took notes freeing me to listen and ask questions. Her pen flew as she filled pages of questions and information that I would need. It was a gift for us to have someone to share the devastating news. She typed the notes for my files. We’ve’ always regarded her as our ‘almost’ daughter and now she had another title-‘personal scribe.’ Peace replaced fearful concern. Sit with someone all day, sometime. One of the best gifts one can bestow.
Now, to the crucial value of conversations in decision-making. The biopsy determined that Jim had Glioblastoma, fast growing cancer. During Jim’s ten days in rehab, in-depth conversations with therapists, neurologists and the head nurse were significant. Then, the Friday night before Jim was discharged rapidly on Monday after Covid-19 restrictions were ending visitation before we had finished our plans for Jim’s future care, one of the physicians spent 45 minutes with us. Since radiation and chemo were not advised, that conversation was tantamount in deciding to register Jim with Hospice. He spoke as though Jim were his dad. “I recommend you take Jim home and just love on him for the brief time he has left”. I remember saying to the doctor, “You have made me un-sad”. After the doctor left, Jim and I chatted about all that was discussed. He was comfortable approving decisions regarding his care. What a marvelous blessing that doctor was to us. We had peace despite all the unknowns that lurked. The decision was made, our family would care for him at home. Pay attention to and appreciate conversations.
Relationships also play an enormous part in contributing to wisdom and practical decisions. The staff on the brain injury unit loved Jim. He was humorous, cooperative and so pleasant to care for. The nurses on that last Monday knowing I wouldn’t be allowed to visit again, brought every person with whom I had appointments into Jim’s room and the therapists gave son, David, and me crash courses in PT, OT and speech. The nurses promised to get him discharged by 5pm that day--and they did. Not easy since they had to schedule a transport. Daughter Kay, had returned from a trip in time to get our house set up for Hospice. When Jim was wheeled into the house, he raised his arms high and said “I’m home!” We didn’t know then, that he had only ten more days. Because of the pandemic, our three children were free to come for the entire time. The provision of wisdom, impressions, conversations and relationships gave our family security, directions, comfort and peace.
Borrowing from last week’s blog about bonus bonding from answered prayer, I see another example of bonding benefit from recording the time-line and people involvement in other critical decisions. Until we get through a situation, we cannot see all the amazing happenings and provisions. Sometimes we learn from someone what we are going to need a couple weeks down the road like with Granddaughter’s suggestion and timing of my surgery to get Roger in place when we needed him and give me time to recover.
A note in Jim’s Bible reads: “God speaks to those who have time to listen—the shepherds had time to listen.” They listened and believed the message and took off to find the new born baby in a stable. We are not sitting in a meadow watching sheep but we can still intentionally, create time to listen to God’s instructions and pay attention to impressions generated many times by the Holy Spirit.
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. James 1:5 (NIV) Through wisdom, God blesses us with insight and unusual understanding.
Paul wrote: I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you…. Eph 1:17-18 (NIV) This is the prayer I pray most of the time for my clients and for our children and grandchildren.
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure, then peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. James 3:17-18 (NIV)
Let us approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Heb. 4:16
Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Ps 37:4