There are times when life seems so hard to navigate, especially because it’s not clear what to do. In certain cases I know exactly what it right, and what God would want. This would be like Jesus, this is true, this is pure . . . whether or not I obey, it’s clear. But other times, life seems less black and white. It’s full of gray areas. I don’t know what God wants, and it’s not crystal clear that this option or that choice are right or wrong.
Should I cheat on my taxes? Have an affair? Ignore my aging parents? The right path to walk is probably pretty clear-cut in these instances. Should I marry this person? Should I take the job in Chicago or Boston? Should I confront my annoying neighbors or bake them cookies? Should I call my landlord about her manipulative behavior or write her a letter or send an e-mail? Much less clear. For the person who wants to follow Jesus and cares about doing right, I can’t look these up in a passage in God’s Word (Thou shalt go work in Boston! Thou shalt bake cookies for neighbors who annoy you! It’s just not there.)
Why would God let a devoted couple, always serving him, get badly injured in a car accident that wasn’t their fault? I can’t fathom what God has in mind, or that he even seems fair!
How do I think about my work when it seems so mundane? Is there any point in going in to the shop or office tomorrow? It seems like it’s all going nowhere in a hurry.
Heavens, I’m racked with sensual desire! How much can I express that in this relationship?—we are dating pretty seriously. How much more can I ask my spouse for? Does God even like sex? Or care?
And so much of life is like this, lived in the gray areas between clear good and evil. How do I get through these portions of life? How can I know what decisions to make, what choices will be best?
Did you know that the Bible has a whole section devoted to learning how to navigate the challenges of making life choices in the murky areas? An amazing set of four books in the Old Testament are a guide for living life where there is no clear-cut command elsewhere. These are the Wisdom Books—Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs. How do you think the way God does when he sees life’s ambiguities? Proverbs sets us up with a framework for thinking and approaching life in general. This down-to-earth guidebook helps us see what are the best decisions, the wisest choices, we can make, as well as how to come to those conclusions. Job helps us sort through the times in life when really rotten and horrible things happen to us, that we in no way deserved. Ecclesiastes guides us to port when we wonder about meaning and purpose in our life. Song of Songs is a delightful and startling window into what the full scope of married love should be, and how God feels about marriage and its emotions.
On Tuesday evenings from 6 to 9, starting January 19th, Urbana Seminary will offer a course to dig into the Old Testament Wisdom Books. Taught by Dr. Ken Cuffey, this class will look at what true wisdom is and how we find and appropriate it in life today. Through each of the four books of OT Wisdom we will reflect on the different aspects of what constitutes wisdom in our thinking and actions—both how to be wise and make wise decisions, and how to understand life when difficult questions are raised. To register or for more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org