The Never Ending Quest for Wisdom
I Kings 3:5-15
May 21, 2017
Like many of you, when I was a child, I enjoyed playing with Legos. The sky really is the limit as to what you can construct with them and they are a toy that boys and girls alike have long enjoyed. Today, The Lego Store, at Disney World or in large cities is a must stop destination for many families in their travels.
Legos, like a lot of things, have evolved over the years. Back when they were invented in 1932 by a carpenter in Denmark, Legos were wooden. It was in not until 1949, after World War II, that the transition was made to the interlocking plastic block that we think of today.
The other big transition that I think of is more recent. When I was a child, Legos were often produced as just a box of various sized, multi-colored bricks. There were suggestions of what you could make out of them but really your imagination was in charge as to what was created. Today, however, most Legos are sold in sets with a specific end product in mind. You might buy Legos in a package to build a famous building such as the White House in their Creator Series. You might purchase a box of Legos that are designed to build a jumbo jet or helicopter in their City Series. Or, you might spend a whole lot of money to buy Legos made to construct a replica of The Death Star or Luke Skywalker’s X Wing Fighter in their Star Wars Series.
Today’s Legos leave you with a dilemma – will you open the box having convinced yourself that merely by using your skill, craftsmanship, wisdom, and the picture on the box that you can figure out on your own how the blocks go together? Or will you use the step by step, easy to follow instructions from the toys makers as your guide? Which route will you take?
I know, for most of us this little dilemma sounds like a very simple question to answer. Yet, our lives, offer the very same question that never goes away no matter how old, mature or experienced we become. In life, we must answer the question as to whether we will convince ourselves that we are smart enough and skilled enough to navigate our days and experiences on our own? Or, will we live every day realizing that no matter how smart, successful or accomplished we are that we need to give ourselves over to the wisdom of someone else?
I Kings tells us that Solomon had a dream. In the Bible, important things often happened while people were dreaming. In Solomon’s dream, God allows him to ask for anything that he would like. Almost like a man who has been granted a wish by a jeanie in a bottle, Solomon can simply name what he wants. According to the story, Solomon looks at himself and realizes that in spite of the title “king” being attached to his name, despite the fact that he is the previous King’s son and even though at a young age he had already risen to a place of power and importance greater than most folks would ever experience in their lives, he was far from self sufficient. He was still in many ways a child and thus he remained dependent on God. In turn, with this one wish, he asks for God’s wisdom, presence and direction in his life.
I will tell you right now graduates, if I was given one wish for each of you it would be that you would live with the very same attitude and approach to life. My wish for you is that no matter what title is one day attached to your name and no matter what you accomplish that you will never forget that you remain in many ways like a child. My hope is that you never leave the state of recognizing an utter dependence on God for ultimate wisdom in your life.
Using the analogy of the Legos, I pray and challenge you to never reach the point where you believe that you can take the blocks that are your life and construct things on your own. Rather, I challenge you to remain the humble person who continues to believe that the best thing for you to do is to follow the instructions handed to you by your maker who is God that are found in his word and through regular time spent among his people.
Let me say it as simply as I can. No matter how much you learn from wonderful courses, great books and terrific resources, never buy into the lie that any of them are more important than the words of wisdom found in God’s word, prayer or in the fellowship of God’s people. And, no matter how terrific the groups, businesses, clubs or organizations are that you are privileged to be a part of one day, never allow them to convince you that they hold a candle to the life changing value that comes by weekly presenting yourself humbly for worship and guidance found in the life of the church or in the company of God’s people.
Here’s the thing to remember. In spite of how wise Solomon was in this moment in I Kings 3, he would eventually convince himself that he didn’t need God’s wisdom and that he had risen above all of this. That was the very moment when his life began to fall apart.
John Wooden, the famous basketball coach once said it this way…”Talent is God-given. Be thankful. Fame is man given. Be thankful. Conceit is self given. Be careful.” Be careful, indeed be very, very careful.
This morning, I want to invite you to do something. I want to invite you as an act of worship to take one or two of these Lego bricks that are on the altar with you. Get as many as you want and get the ones that you want. I am also going to challenge you to put them somewhere in your dorm room, on your dresser or another place of your choosing where that you will see them regular. Let them serve to you as a reminder to build your life, brick by brick, on God’s instructions not on your own wisdom.
By the way, I didn’t tell you what all of these Lego’s form. If put together with the instructions, they make a sail boat. A sail boat is an age old image of growing in faith. Our job is to put up our sails and then to wait through scripture, prayer and time with God’s people for the Holy Spirit, God’s presence, to blow us where it will. In humility, that is exactly what I hope you will do each and every day. Go, put your sail up, and then, rather than trusting yourself, give yourself over humbly to the wisdom and direction of God. Amen.