Christa Wells on Wisdom (and another giveaway entry!)

By September 13, 2010Get Inspired


(Today, my friend Christa shares her beautiful words with us. Please make her feel welcome.)

To See What Is Really True & Truly Real

We’re on the road, destined for rest by the sea, and we’ve looked forward to this for so long. In seven hours more (at 2:10 AM, according to our friend GPS) we’ll arrive at a quiet beach spot and one week of splendidly simple choices like:

Flip-flops or bare feet? Pool or ocean? Turkey or salami?

No spiritual gift of discernment required. Life is seldom that way.

child readingWhen I was little, in a bookstore with my mother, I was allowed to choose one book to purchase. I held up to her two I could not decide between…misery of miseries, they both looked so interesting! But Mom knew: the cartooned paperback in a how-to series for kids titled, How to Make Your Own Decisions.

She still has the book. And I’m still trying to figure it out.

Wisdom…

What I hunger for. Why I inhale written word and take notes during sermons. Why I revel in good conversation and stalk mentors. Not looking so much for what to do, but how to see what is really true.

So much to understand. So much I do not.

And I wonder…as much as we long for peace, love, joy…could it be that with hearts and minds conformed to our Maker’s heart and mind, we might find ourselves more at rest?

yellow calcite

Like children who can’t make out the writing on the blackboard and haven’t yet been given eyeglasses, without wisdom we strain and fatigue and daydream of recess and lunch. Exasperated in our attempts to figure out what the heck is going on here.

To see clearly is a gift.

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”
(Serenity Prayer)

What would it be like to see through the walls that have stood for so long between us and the people we try to love? To have the ability to cut through the distractions and zero in on the thing that matters. To know what is truly real…

And then to speak cosmos (order) into the chaos here.

Open Bible with pen

She’s beautiful and powerful, Wisdom. We can easily look around and see destruction in places where she is not. But am I (are you?) willing to go after her? It’s asking, and it’s listening, and it’s lots of time wading out in deep water.

There are things to be changed, most critically: us.

I can’t take the simplicity of a beach vacation home with me, but maybe improved vision I can.

A Question From Kat: How Do You Pursue Wisdom?

There are so many ways to learn. Books, blogs, sermons, teaching cds/mp3s, mentors, journaling…? I’ve found I learn best from audiobooks. I can listen while I do dishes, run or clean the house…

How do you learn best?

(FYI – comments here are counted for the big giveaway this week. So feel free to share your thoughts!)

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Comments

52 Comments

  • Shiree says:

    I hear best through reading and worship, but I think relationships, deep intimate ones, are definitely an amazing way to gain wisdom. I am learning to gain wisdom through them. I’ve felt like I’ve had a small epiphany lately: “If Jesus left us the Holy Spirit, and that same Spirit is in each of us, then when we encourage and build one another up, relate to one another in love, it is the Spirit of God.”

    I am definitely not a theologian and maybe I’m wrong but it just seems so right. And maybe some will be like, “Duh! You are just now getting this?” But it has been something that I’ve felt, witnessed, and experienced lately. The Holy Spirit is a great teacher.

  • Joyce says:

    I’m a big reader, but surprisingly I don’t learn best by reading. Once I finish reading something, I usually forget it. I learn best by doing, or seeing someone showing me how to do something.

  • karin says:

    “What I hunger for. Why I inhale written word and take notes during sermons. Why I revel in good conversation and stalk mentors. Not looking so much for what to do, but how to see what is really true.” — My heart echoes yours, Christa…

    Though, I am looking for what to do, too – I listen carefully to hear my Father’s voice speaking to me in the midst of all the words. We often have great conversations this way, intermingled in, interspersed through, inspired by the words of others….

    My nightstand is buried beneath books, my nights full of reading them and others such as you, Kat, and Ann…

    I also search for Her when I pray in rest, peace, and assurance that the Lord hears and will answer if I do not doubt, but ask Him — then I know I have my answer. (James 1:5-8) To remember that I can only get Wisdom from God is a good place to begin my search, and then to quiet and still and seek and know that He is God. He is indeed a good and kind and gracious God. Praise Him!

    • Kat says:

      Karin….um….did you just use my name in the same sentence as Ann Voskamp? Or were you referring to a different Ann? If you meant THAT Ann, in the words of Anne of Green Gables, “I shall consider this an epoch in my life.”

      Not that I’m dramatic or anything. But, really, when I grow up I want to be like Ann Voskamp, so thanks for the compliment!

  • Amy says:

    I learn a lot from books and blogs, yet I also find that I learn best by actually seeing something done!

  • Jenn Cook says:

    Recently I’m realizing that a lot of my true wisdom comes from waiting on the Lord! Too often I’m quick to do my own thing without first taking it to the Lord in prayer. When I wait on Him, He provides me with greater wisdom than I could have ever gotten on my own!

  • Brie says:

    In this season of life podcasts and blogs. I can pull up blogs like this one on my phone and take a few minutes when I have them to read.

  • Alicia says:

    I learn through reading and discussing it with a friend, then applying what I have read and see what the outcome is. So basically through trial and error.

  • Aidan says:

    This is so not new, but I learn a lot by reading while I nurse.

  • Amanda says:

    I think I discover the most wisdom when I take time out for thinking, prayer, and Bible study. (And when I talk through things with my friends!). So often in our busy lives we don’t take the time to seek out wisdom – we’re just struggling with the daily decisions. But when we take the time to listen, God’s wisdom guides us, the daily decisions are more likely to be the right ones, and the big decisions can be made with more peace. Thank you for this, Christa. (And Kat, I have enjoyed your posts on Passionate Homemaking, and just finally clicked to your site through Christa Wells’ facebook page – what a small world!) 🙂

    • Kat says:

      Amanda,
      That’s so random! I’m glad you stopped by. Clearly you’re incredibly brilliant if you read Lindsay’s blog and listen to Christa’s music. 🙂

  • crystal says:

    I seek wisdom by simply asking God for it. In the book of James it says “If any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God who gives to all men generously and it will be given to him”. I am thankful God is the greatest source of wisdom!

  • Marianne says:

    I learn by listening to podcasts by gifted teachers like Nancy Leigh Demoss or Andy Stanley as well as by getting quiet and reading God’s Word and spending time in Prayer through out the day.

  • Carolyn says:

    I think I learn best through reading books and the blogs. My biggest problem is hearing. Not listening but truly hearing what God is saying to me through all forms. I so often question if I am hearing what He wants me to hear or if my ADD mind is just making things up as I go along. but so often, confirmation comes in the form of a timely post or passage in my bible study that confirms that I truly am hearing what God has for me. Wisdom is in my opinion, one of the hardest things to grasp. But in a recent bible study a woman said this: Knowledge is information; wisdom is knowing how to use it. My prayer is that God grant me the ability to know how to use the information He is putting in my path, wherever that may come from.

  • christa says:

    It’s encouraging to meet other women who are hungry for Truth…as I re-read my own words, I find it’s too big a subject for one post. (Glad you’re writing all week about it, Kat!) I celebrate, with Crystal, the fact that GOD through His HOLY SPIRIT has promised us the understanding we need. We don’t neeeed all the other books, but they can be incredibly enriching. Yes! The Person of God, in the Word, is our source!

    The obvious question then is: what keeps us from it?

    I have my thoughts, but I’d love to hear yours! 🙂 Like I said, I’m a junkie for provocative conversation…

    • Kat says:

      Oh, great question! I think most often, clutter keeps me from wisdom. The clutter of information that swarms at me each day. I sit and read the newspaper for an hour and what wisdom have I gained? Nothing.

      I follow random links on Twitter and Facebook and blogs. I spend hours staring at a screen, when…really, the most profound and life altering realizations hit me when I’m still and quiet and listening.

      So I think the biggest things that keep me from it are the noise, busyness and clutter of life.

  • I seek wisdom by reading old sermons by men who my husband and I consider to have been wise! Also through much prayer and allowing of the Lord to search and refine my heart… I just blogged about Jesus healing my heart and filling it with truth yesterday actually…

  • Stephanie says:

    I find most of the time wisdom comes to me when I sit with something for a long time. I read something new or something old that strikes me in a new way, and then I think about it while I’m washing the dishes or picking up toys. I talk to my husband about it. It just comes up with a friend. I read something else, seemingly unrelated, and there it is again. And then suddenly, days, weeks, months, later, like a bolt out of the blue, I hear that still small voice speak and that writing on the blackboard that you mentioned suddenly stands out crystal clear. So, I guess I seek wisdom by reading, reflecting, discussing, but at the end of the day it still seems like it finds me.

  • Dee Dee says:

    Reading,Reading, then walking and chewing on it…then ultimately doing or it just doesn’t stick:)

  • Colleen says:

    I, too, love to listen to audiobooks. It can be hard to find the time, I admit, because even when I’m listening while doing some household duties, I have the little people of my life that are still coming to me and tugging on my pants trying to get my attention. I’ve tried listening to books while drifting off to sleep at night, but I find that I haven’t a clue where I left off (and dozed off) the next time I try to pick it up. 🙂 Ah, the joys of this season of life.

  • Meagan says:

    Ahhh wisdom. I seek Her all the time. I read incessantly. I inhale books. I read my Bible daily, Christian biographies, books on theology, books on Christian parenting and marriage, books on world history, books on food, books on managing a home, books on doctrine, books books books! And I learn a lot. But I don’t know that it is wisdom. I have been seeking Her ferociously lately. But in the wrong way.

    A couple of nights ago, my husband and I were having a financial meeting. When it was all too overwhelming, I left the room, went to a quiet place, got on my knees and asked for wisdom. For answers. And I asked that God put them not on my heart, but on my husband’s. Then I would know that it was God and not me making the decisions. (My husband can be very indecisive and was balking against making any decisions.) I went back out and asked my hubby what we should do and he suddenly had a perfectly laid out plan and said it with complete decisiveness and calmness. I then asked about tithing, something he is not thrilled about doing and something I had also prayed about. I said ten percent would be xxx amount. He paused. And decided that given our finances, we should give over 5 percent and when we were more stable we would bump it up to ten percent. Yep, wisdom comes from God alone. I didn’t have to stress. I didn’t have to wonder. I just had to pray and ask what to do and God told me. What a relief and what a revelation! Take it to the Lord in prayer!

  • Jessica says:

    I learn best by taking notes. Whether I read or listen, I need to sit down and write complete sentences of what has struck me: this double processing (first I read/hear then I write it out) is how things sink in deep roots. I find that hard, though, because I need to have a decent chunk of time to do so, possibly with minimal interruptions… Ha! That’s where EARLY mornings on my own become tremendous blessings!!

  • Lynda says:

    I think I learn more when I just stop and listen to my Lord. I read too much, do too much, and never seem to find the time to just stop. Listen!!! Congratulations on your award! You really deserve it. You inspire me everyday to be a better person, and follow my Lord more.

  • heather says:

    I LOVE audio books. I usually listen in my car when the kids are not around. I also love worship music, prayer, reading my Bible, and talking it through with friends and a good cup of coffee!

  • Abby says:

    I read a lot. And blog a lot. And read other peoples’ blogs who are also searching for wisdom, in hopes that I maybe also inspired.

  • Katrina Fisher says:

    Christa, “stalking mentors” was a fabulous image – I hunger to learn from women who’ve gone before me, infinitely more gracefully than me, as I stumble along in this reality called motherhood as a child of God. Sitting with real life women, probing deep questions, is powerful for me. Reading books by those with whom I cannot sit helps too – and journaling is the way God seeps their wisdom into my heart, soul and mind. I forget so easily!

  • Shawn says:

    I learn best by watching my friends parent. I see what they do right and I try it with my own kids. I see the things that make me cringe and I know not to go down that road. I talk with my friends when I need help parenting and I learn from others that are in the same boat.

  • Jessica says:

    I read one chapter of the book of Proverbs each day. I have really gained a lot of wisdom by doing this.

  • April says:

    I pursue wisdom first and foremost through prayer – I ask God directly for it! Especially as a new parent, I pray for wisdom often. I have also found throughout my life that journaling is a good way for me to process and reflect upon my own thoughts, although I find myself doing less and less writing in my journal, in these busy days. I have thought about starting a personal blog, but much of what I write about are my inmost thoughts which I don’t really feel comfortable sharing with the masses. So, I guess I just need to schedule in journal time each day, maybe during my quiet time?? Lastly, I look to the Godly women in my life whom I admire greatly – my grandmothers, mother, and others – to seek and emulate wisdom through both their words and actions.

  • patty r. says:

    I pursue wisdom best by listening to church messages on mp3 and taking notes while i listen. while i’m taking notes on the messages, i also jot down any thoughts i have as to how i can apply it to my own life, and i review those notes over and over during my quiet times. i also pursue wisdom through the reading of good books written by such people as jerry bridges or john piper…i am so hungry for God’s wisdom and i am so grateful for the many means of receiving it that he gives us.
    love your site and enjoy your posts so much!! you’ve been such a help to me!!
    blessings,
    ~patty r.

  • Stephanie says:

    I learn best from books and conversation. I love to read, read, read and then talk with someone who has the wisdom I am searching for.

    Love your post!

  • Smiling, I respond easily by saying that God has taught me Wise Things the most clearly – and I have learned the deepest Truths – through my husband, our four children (one of them being Christa Wells), our four in-law kids, and our twelve grandchildren – as we have shared Life and applied God’s Word to it. They are my Teachers and my Accountability.
    But there are others, too. Some I have met, but some I have not.
    All of these Relationships impact my Life through their conversation, books, music, behavioral responses, work ethic, life choices, etc. Their Lives make up the Gallery of stories, paintings, pottery, poetry, “moving pictures”, that informs my Pursuit of Wisdom . They are Masterpieces, Works of Art, the Creative Activities of a Father and his Son – who Live and Breathe through his Spirit into the lives of human beings that He calls and embraces as his Children.
    The Word of God literally Breathes Life/Love/Wisdom (Spirit-things we only begin to touch/understand on this planet) into the Human Heart through Relationships.
    Helen Keller would tell us that if we could not see words on a page or hear words spoken out loud to us, we would still learn at the core of our humanity the Wisdom of God through our Relationships (the good ones and the bad…the joy-filled and the painful..) with Him and with other people.
    I am as hard-headed as any (more so than most), but I pay close attention to the Relationships God paints on the canvas of my life – especially my Family – in order to grow in Wisdom and Understanding. Those I especially Love, my Family, carry the weight of Truth and Reality that force their way through the door of my heart even when it is closed.
    I have heard it said that Righteousness = Right Relationships with God, with others, and with ourselves. My experience over nearly 64 years is that the Pursuit of Wisdom is in the Whole of the Creative Activity of Living Life through Relationships…intentionally listening for the Voice of the Author and Director of my Story.

  • Carrie K says:

    God’s word, wise girlfriends and debating with my wise husband 🙂

  • Sarah C says:

    I love audiobooks/sermons but my son “competes” whenever he senses that Mom’s not really paying attention, so books during nap time are what works for right now.

  • Danielle says:

    I find that talking through things with an older woman is so helpful….I am totally a verbal processor…so that really helps me to think through things and apply scripture to my everyday! I also love to read blogs (like this one!) where there is a real emphasis on scripture and how to apply it daily……lastly…I pray….continually for wisdom…God is the only one who can truly give it!

  • RachelleB. says:

    I learn best when reading just not as much time to do this as I would like…I do like listening but don’t ever seem to retain as much. I would like to try the audio CD’s though.

  • Stephanie says:

    I pursue wisdom through heartfelt persistent prayer. In the book of James, it says “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5) That precious wisdom and peace and joy and faith always comes and God does give wisdom generously!

  • Grace says:

    I learn best by watching others and doing. I have also discovered how wonderful a godly mentor is as I can think through out loud with someone and then receive quality feedback. But of course, it is ultimately the Holy Spirit who reveals truth to me through His Word and it is the kind of revelation that is transforming (if I let Him!).

  • Sarah says:

    I do glean a lot from books, blogs, conversation, audiobooks, etc. But I think most of what I glean is not truly wisdom as much as it is encouragement, neat ideas, or just interesting. Some of those resources do share wisdom, or inspire me to pursue wisdom. But for the most part I think the questions “How do you pursue wisdom?” and “How do you learn best?” may be related, but they are really not the same question. Based on many of the responses above, it sounds like I’m in good company here with many like-minded women!
    So if wisdom comes from God, how do we pursue it? And what is wisdom anyway? Is it some special brand of smart?
    My favorite passage about how wisdom is Proverbs 2:
    1My son, if you will receive my words
    And treasure my commandments within you,
    2Make your ear attentive to wisdom,
    Incline your heart to understanding;
    3For if you cry for discernment,
    Lift your voice for understanding;
    4If you seek her as silver
    And search for her as for hidden treasures;
    5Then you will discern the fear of the LORD
    And discover the knowledge of God.
    6For the LORD gives wisdom;
    From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.

    I love this passage, and I love that this post and discussion have prompted me to revisit it. I guess the key things here that impact how I set my heart to gain wisdom are
    v.1 the essential centrality of the Word as beloved instructor,
    v.2 the required devotion of my attention and affection,
    v.3 the necessity of a response of sincere spoken prayer,
    v.4 the high value placed upon wisdom that produces diligent perseverance
    And the final key – the possession of wisdom is inseparable from the fear of the Lord and the knowledge of God.
    So, I pursue wisdom by setting my heart and my mind continually upon the Lord, devoting myself to long and loving meditation on the word and the person of Christ, speaking prayers to the God of the universe (believing that He hears every one), and valuing my communion with God as priceless above all else. For me, “long and loving meditation” in this season usually does not look like spending even an hour-long block of time giving my exclusive attention to a passage of scripture. It’s simply the grace-empowered setting of my heart on a pilgrimage into the heart of God. I want to fill my mind with thoughts of the Lord and His Word. I will seek you today Lord, and when Your Spirit woos me back from distraction I will start again, and again tomorrow, and still the next day, and still the next, and again, and again. And though 10 years from now I will have barely grasped a cupful of the infinite ocean that is called “the knowledge of God”, I will, by Your Grace, possess Living Water more than I have today. And that is the beginning of wisdom.

  • Stephanie says:

    I generally learn best by reading or doing.

  • christa says:

    Sarah!

    “v.1 the essential centrality of the Word as beloved instructor,
    v.2 the required devotion of my attention and affection,
    v.3 the necessity of a response of sincere spoken prayer,
    v.4 the high value placed upon wisdom that produces diligent perseverance
    And the final key – the possession of wisdom is inseparable from the fear of the Lord and the knowledge of God.”

    AMEN and AMEN.

    To long for Wisdom is to long to be intimate with Creator…to know His mind and heart…so that’s where it begins…and ends. In between, doesn’t He use the most unexpected people and words and songs and circumstances to point us to His marvelous Truth? To clear vision? Not overnight but over the long haul we see change and depth…

    It does seem the world makes it mighty enticing for us to avoid those deeper waters…lots of pool toys floating around in the shallows to distract. 🙂

  • Ruth Hill says:

    I make sure to spend my time reading inspirational books and blogs. I know that if I miss my quiet time, I really won’t do very well in this area!

  • Darla says:

    here’s my 1/2 cent…

    Sarah, you so hit the nail on the head! i do lots of reading…. books, blogs, listen to messages, radio talk shows, & conferences…. music & song lyrics too…. but all of these are like Sarah said more like encouragement & interesting takes on what someone else is doing or has done…. when it comes right down to it …. wisdom is seeing life from God’s perspective and so i must set my affections on things above….
    thanks for your blog Kat it is an encouragement to me!

  • Dawn says:

    I learn best from friends and mentors. Talking things through with the people I love and trust is how I usually get my answers. I do a lot of reading, books and blogs, but usually my biggest ah-ha moments come from my discussions with those I love. I have lots of questions and love to poke holes in theories, so for me being able to learn from someone who can answer those questions and calm my fears and doubts is the way I can truly embrace something new.

  • Prerna says:

    Lovely post, Christa. I learn best through books, real paper books and like @Dawn, from friends and mentors.

  • Tara says:

    I love to listen, but have found that so much more stays with me if I also write down notes! I love to learn from example too.

  • Dara says:

    I learn best from example, watching and talking to older wise women and moms. But I don’t have a lot of opportunities to do this here in Slovakia where I live so I usually go to books, blogs and emailing to moms. I love this blog because it is very practical and oriented toward action and I like learning this way, try things and see how they work out.