So much of life seems to be about getting – getting an education, getting a job, getting a marriage partner, getting a house. The list goes on. Yet getting isn't always easy these days. A recent television broadcast featured a "tent city" in California, filled not with the indigent and chronically unemployed, but with middle class families. As the US and world economies struggle and threats of a recession loom, it's useful to look at a different approach to getting.
Perhaps there's a hint in that little word get. The ancient book of Proverbs, with all its sage advice, never once gives advice about getting rich, at least not in material terms. It doesn't give hints about getting to the top of the corporate ladder. It says this about getting: "Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth…. Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding" (Prov. 4:5, 7).
The wise counsel of these passages transcends time, language, even – one would hope – the country of origin on one's passport, or one's religious preference.
The search for wisdom – for an understanding of the God who is universal wisdom itself – is the only search that is really going to get any of us where we need to go.
Mary Baker Eddy, who had the wisdom to start this newspaper in the face of the corrupt journalism of her day, said this about the all-wise God and His ability to supply our needs: "God is not moved by the breath of praise to do more than He has already done, nor can the infinite do less than bestow all good, since He is unchanging wisdom and Love" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 2).
Recently, a widowed American woman proved the wisdom of turning to God in her own dire need. She'd carefully economized after the sudden loss of her husband – downsized her house, cut expenses. Then she was involved in a bad accident that destroyed her aging car, which she hadn't planned to replace for two more years. As she prayed for the wisdom that acknowledges God's goodness and His love for all His creation without prejudice, her feelings about the accident turned from dismay to gratitude – for her deliverance from the effects of the accident; for her helpful neighbors; but mostly, for what she was learning about God as her Life, as the Love of her Life, as Truth.
To her surprise, a number of adjustments took place. First, the hospital where she'd been taken after the crash offered to reduce her bill because her insurance didn't cover the treatment. Then she was told she'd be receiving an unrelated and completely unexpected sum from another source. She found a replacement car and was able to pay for it. In fact, when she paid her bills that month, she had money left over.
Her experience brings to mind a story in the Bible that tells about a widow who came to the prophet Elisha for help. She was in dire need because she was unable to pay her debts, and as a result, her sons were about to be taken away as slaves. Her only resource was a pot of oil. Elisha told her to borrow containers and pour the oil out into them. That one bottle filled many, and after it stopped flowing, she sold the oil to pay her debts but also had some left over to live on (see II Kings 4:1-7). Human reason would have said, "No way," to the thought of the multiplying oil, but spiritual wisdom looks at things quite differently.
The promise in getting wisdom is so much greater than that of material gain. It's for peace, health, and well-being – the kind of spiritual riches that don't fluctuate with markets, tastes, place, or time.