It has been said that people grow wiser with age. On the other hand, I have also heard that the wealth of my knowledge decreases in direct proportion with the aging of my children -- I felt smarter when they thought their dad knew everything! Is it possible that both of these statements possess a ring of truth?
Wisdom is often equated with knowledge, but that is a misnomer. Knowledge has to do with acquiring information, while wisdom is related more to the application of acquired information.
As an elementary student, I had little difficulty knowing that 2 + 3 = 5. To help me apply that knowledge, there were "story problems." If Billy's dad gave him 2 apples, and he gave Billy's sister 3 apples, how many apples did Billy's dad give away? At this point, I did not care how many apples Billy's dad gave; I wanted to know why Billy got the short end of the deal!
You may be relieved to know that, eventually, I got over it and learned how to apply that knowledge to everyday life situations (but I still have a soft spot in my heart for Billy). Something else I have discovered is that maturity has not lessened my knowledge, but it has increased my awareness of how much I do not know or understand.
Somewhat early in my life I readily accepted the fact that a small pebble thrown into a pond would sink, and that a large ship sailing on the ocean would float. Later in life, however, logic caused me to question how something that weighed 1 ounce would not float, but something weighing 100,000 tons could sail across the ocean on the surface of the water.
The stabilizing factor that has been present throughout the years of tension between knowledge and wisdom is faith. My first airplane ride was at the age of 3 or 4. I don't remember much about that short flight, accept that it was a twin propeller engine, and it made my ears hurt. Flying in an aircraft as an adult, however, is an experience that increases my blood pressure and anxiety level. Based on my own personal knowledge and understanding, there is no way a 187,000 pound aircraft can remain suspended in midair for an extended period of time without falling.
Experience and faith, however, teach me that it can, it has, it does, and it will. With maturity I have come to accept that what I do not understand far exceeds that which I do understand. For that reason, faith looms large in the picture of my life.
There is an entire chapter in the Bible about people who did extraordinary things, and faith was their motivation. The apostle Paul wrote these words, "... for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him until that Day." Life is not finally about what we know or what we understand, but where we place our trust. I choose to trust in God.
Steven Callis is the minister at First Church of the Nazarene in Douglasville.