Here’s what James might have been saying in James 1:5-8:
“If anyone lacks wisdom, go ahead, ask God. Not for the answer but for the insight to weigh the answers, the capacity to decide. As my brother, our Savior, Jesus said, ‘ask and you will receive.” What I’ve discovered every time I’ve asked, is that God doesn’t scold me for asking. He doesn’t hold out on me or tease me. He simply gives wisdom.
“Sometimes it’s in the next conversation I have. Sometimes it’s the next thought that comes to mind, an idea that I never have had before. Sometimes it’s like walking into a clearing in the woods and being able to think more clearly, to not be beset by the press of the trees. And in that moment of brightness, I can make a better choice.
“But If I don’t quiet myself to listen, if I ask and then keep running around asking everyone else. Or if I keep filling my mind with noise. Or if I keep pushing back from the table because I’m afraid of what I will hear, I get nothing.
“And here’s the thing. If I don’t pay attention, it’s gone. If I don’t move on that insight, if I don’t make a decision and follow through, if I linger in the space of being of two minds, I’m in trouble. Not ‘God will hate me’ trouble. But stuck trouble. Paralyzed trouble. Unable to move forward or backward trouble. I’ve never heard it said this way but it’s like being double-souled.”
After thinking about the confidence that James expresses about asking for wisdom, I have a challenge for us. What if we agreed, you and I, for the next week, to ask for wisdom and then act.
I don’t know your chaos, you don’t know mine. But we could try it for a few days. To get up in the morning, pour a cup of coffee and say, “I lack wisdom. I’m struggling to make choices. I’m asking.”