I’m working on reading a new book. The Locust Effect argues, in brief, that violence eats up hope. Particularly where systemic poverty has people trapped, violence can take away any gains made through microfinance, through feeding projects, through other kinds of relief.
As I said, I’m working on reading it. I said that I would and I got an advance copy of the book. But since then, I’ve been tied up in other projects. Like teaching and writing and editing. Like riding and walking and lifting. Like worrying and planning and praying.
Most of the things on my list are good things. Most of the things on your list are, too. We just need wisdom to make effective choices.
In the past, I would trot out a sentence written by James, one of Jesus’ half-brothers. James said, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” And I have often said, “So if you are wondering about choices, ask God. He won’t scold you. He promises wisdom.” And then I would pray for the person and send them on their way to ask and wait.
But last week I was reading Psalm 51. It’s a confession, the kind of letter you might write to someone who accepted you in to an amazing internship program after you broke the rules and should be dismissed. After you’ve been granted another chance, you write. You talk how they deserve good behavior, how you acted badly, and how you want to be restored to the relationship. You might write, “Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.”
Maybe I don’t need wisdom for choices between. I need to become wise, deep down. And maybe some of the choices I chase will be gone. Sometimes it’s the difference between veneer and virtue.