Wisdom At Thirty
Thirty does feel different. It feels whole, a somewhat having lived that invites you to live on, and live well, and wisely. Obviously, much change takes place in life’s first three decades - a becoming into personhood, into autonomy, into wanting, and trying, into observing and making sense of the world, and myself. But I think one of the most wonderful parts of growing into thirty has been a new acquaintance with understanding.
Blessed are those who find wisdom, who gain understanding. Proverbs 3:13
True understanding runs deep. It inevitably seeks and finds itself in God. I’m only thirty, but I do not need another lifetime to figure out that here in God’s world, it is true understanding to acknowledge him and his Word for life and godliness. And living in this wisdom reaps fervent and everlasting joy. All other living falls way way short.
So with the glorious grace of Christ’s gospel as the backdrop + foundation of my little redeemed life, I’d like to reflect on a handful of the many lessons I’m taking from zero to thirty into the rest of the days my God has ordained for me.
1. I am not the point. Though we as people naturally seek fulfillment of self, what is the ultimate end of a fully realized and actualized person, when our very make up is wrought with sin? Our greatest good will still be disappointingly stained with inconsistency, selfishness, and the like. All our righteousness are as filthy rags.
Truly knowing this, our eyes can move past ourselves to behold the One whose righteousness covers all unrighteousness - Christ (not you or me) is literally the beginning and end of all things. The whole of creation and story and reality is about him. After resisting and flailing a while, it is a happy thing to agree and gladly dethrone ourselves from our imaginary seats of ultimate significance. It is actually one of the most treasurable marks of freedom we can bear.
2. Humility begets humility. The longer you live, the more you know the pain of conflict. Deep offense, mutual misunderstanding, hyperawareness of the other’s pride. It all stings and stinks.
But nothing quite breaks the gridlock of an unresolved conflict, especially when the offense has gotten personal, like the surprising offering of a genuine apology. An offering of acknowledgement of wrong that hurts to admit, but revels in the truth. Humility that chooses to release the pretense of moral perfection. It backtracks and retreats in confession, and confession is bound in the truth.
And while it’s not guaranteed, authentic humility disarms and makes new room for shared acknowledgment of sin. It paves a path for confession, the balm of forgiveness, and reconciliation. It makes way for the gospel to soothe in those festering wounds of pride.
3. It is good to talk less. This is pertinent to me personally, in that my foolishness has historically led me to truly believe that my words can effect change in other people. New flash: they cannot. Verbosity usually does not heal. Listening often does.
A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion. Proverbs 18:2.
Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life, he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin. Proverbs 13:3.
4. It is one’s glory to overlook an offense. (Proverbs 19:11) If it’s minor, don’t take yourself too seriously, and let it go.
5. The taste of God’s sovereignty is so sweet. God holds exclusive sovereign power and wisdom. I can’t even keep a plant alive apart from the Lord giving it life, let alone wield the direction of my life, my family’s future, or the state of the world. It’s not wrong to care, but grasping for control is miserable because it insists on a lie.
Acknowledging God’s sovereignty is another happy release. Even sweeter is nestling ourselves in the marriage between his absolute power and his merciful heart. Every blessing, every tragedy, every unanswered question, every pondering into the wild mystery of his choosing to save some, let alone any, by the cross of Jesus, finds its home there.
6. True joy runs quietly across every circumstance. Joy is not a floppy sunhat that flies away with one gust of wind. Rather, it’s a quiet laser beam buried deep in the foundations of a person, quiet and reliable, running through every circumstance. True joy can’t unsee the wonder of Christ crucified and risen for my deliverance. Everything else is circumstantial.
7. We are all a mist in the wind. While we are here, we ought to embrace the breath he gives, enjoy God’s creation abundantly, and stare into him via his Word until we wake up one day and find ourselves beholding his blinding holiness and glory. On that day, it will either be his beauty and favor, or blinding righteous wrath. I pray we all find ourselves hiding behind Christ.
The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. Ecclesiastes 12:13
8. We are as happy as we agree with God about him, this world, and ourselves. I have come to truly believe that our deepest problems ultimately stem from a fundamental rejection of what God has said is true about all things. It’s not that humanity’s problems aren’t without complicating factors and the tragedy of sin that people commit against one another. But he knows. He made all of this and the people in it. He had a plan before the foundation of the world to bear every human sting and restore everything to himself. He knows.
9. It’s all a picture. As far as I see it, everything made is testifying to God. The mountains? testifying to God. Parenthood? testifying to God. The symphony? testifying to God. Beauty? Art? Food? The legal system? Math? It’s all testifying to him. It’s wonderful.
10. You shouldn’t put so much confidence in your *empty* gas tank's reserve portion, especially when driving uphill in San Francisco. Or else you’ll need to frantically maneuver your dead backwards rolling car into a fire lane to park it while your friend who you were going to meet for dinner starves her dinner and comes to pick you up, only to take you to the nearest overpriced SF gas station. And you’ll need to pay $18 for a portable gas tank and spend the rest of the evening reviving your poor car and then drive home hungry and sad.
At thirty, I have so much to learn, and am so grateful for each morning God gives me life, so I might grow in true wisdom and love for him and others.