A heart of wisdom.
Who couldn't use a little wisdom? Living in the information age you'd think excellence would define everything in the smarts department. Sadly, it doesn't. As the people at the Mindful Screening cite of Thrive Global say, "we're drowning in data but starved for wisdom" (https://thriveglobal.com/stories/were-drowning-in-data-but-starved-for-wisdom/). This is new the world of artificial intelligence. Machines do most of our thinking, strategic planning, and even visioning. If information is the thing, it's at our fingertips in a flash. As a result, attention spans have lowered to mere seconds and decision making is suddenly one of our most critical challenges. Now there are super-networks, that is, information systems over and above electronic networks to formalize decision making in the information age. Lord, help us! We've got the info. We're just a quart or two low on how to use it!
Three thousand or so years ago King David prayed, "So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom" (Psalm 90:12, ESV). The King had written about the fleeting nature of life and he wanted his people to know its brevity and therefore its value as a gift from God. The "heart of wisdom" he promised as a result challenges us in a couple of distinct ways. First, we must grasp the biblical concept of the human heart. Second, the meaning of biblical wisdom must be clarified. Both ideals are essential if we are to live the life God planned for us. Gaining his wisdom is certainly a heart issue.
Sure, I have a heart. It is beating right now, a resting 83 bpm according to my FitBit. My little heart is pumping blood throughout my circulatory system via the vessels, arteries, and veins that supply me with oxygen and nutrients. This muscular heart also cleanses my body of metabolic waste. So, what's new with that? In the Bible however, the human heart is the central operating system for all of life---emotions, desires, and most behaviors. It is specifically mentioned in the NIV Bible more than 500 times. In those verses we learn to "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding" (Proverbs 3:5, ESV) . The Bible also warns us that "The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9, ESV). Wise Solomon advised that we should "Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life" (Proverbs 4:23, ESV). Information is stored in the brain. But, in the Bible the heart is more than a physical organ. It is our control center and must be vigilantly guarded. Google "the human heart in the Bible" and stand amazed at what is taught.
Biblical wisdom is more than education, information, or gathered data. The Book of Proverbs contrasts biblical wisdom and its opposite, folly. There's some word play---wise and foolish our two options. Solomon was inspired to write "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight" (Proverbs 9:10, ESV). Simply, wisdom could be defined as the appropriate application of knowledge. It is not natural to the human species and is the gift of God to those who ask and practice his ways. Practical James wrote, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him" (James 1:5, ESV). Biblical wisdom is also taught by God. King David's prayer for the nation, that God would teach them to number their days promised biblical wisdom to those who learn that spiritual discipline. This wisdom is the truth that life is God's precious gift, is short, and should therefore be lived wisely, that is, according to God's counsel and direction.
So, here we are, 71+ million boomers, in that "Between 65 and..." phase, coasting through life, accumulating wealth, striving for worldly objectives, with little thought of heavenly wisdom in completing our time on earth. Every human, regardless of age, should strive for God's way as we live in these complicated, fast times. Even so, multitudes in our boomer cohort give little thought to eternity, how to live our final days in expectation of life after death. It's the missing wisdom piece that is so sadly evident. Yesterday I had coffee with my friend Curt Bradford and he reminded me of "the stewardship of experience", how we use our life experience to influence those who will follow us. In my mind, this "stewardship" should be a defining example of the wisdom that numbering our days will produce. People our age should know this. Of course, many in our cohort, and the other generations as well, wander in the spiritual barrens so obvious in our secular times. The "stewardship of influence" is a matter of faith.
Two profound responses should motivate me in these years. One, I need to get my own house in order, giving attention to my own spiritual well-being and afterlife. Two, I need to insure that my influence on family, friends, and those precious humans around me is strongly positive, and totally consistent with my Christian worldview. If either of these is minimized or downplayed, they will not be the result that numbering my days should produce.
A heart of wisdom is God's promise if the numbering of my days helps me understand the precious gift of life, its brevity in every generation, and the truth that this wisdom can only be given by God. There's also this truth. This thing about "Between 65 and..." isn't questionable or variable. It is actually "Between 65 and Death".