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This series I’m writing is based on a simple idea: Each day, I’m going to wake up, pray and read in Proverbs with “parenting eyes.” Then I’m going to blog whatever comes to mind. This could be brilliant or an epic failure. But that’s the plan. Today, I read Proverbs 2:1-22.

231.

It’s the first time I questioned a nurse’s eyesight and/or education with the phrase, “That can’t be right. Are you sure?”

My guess is that she’s answered that question a gazillion times in her day-to-day after her patients hit the scale: “It’s only 3 numbers, sir. I’ve known my numbers for over 45 years. I’m very sure.” I wasn’t going to get into a semantic argument about whether it was only one number or three, especially since she’d already commented that I’d apparently shrunk a quarter-inch according to my chart. Best to cut my losses and move along.

The doctor reviewed all the data from the blood work as well as the questions about my family’s medical history and lifestyle changes and such. He professionally dog-piled on the nurse’s negativity by revealing a cholesterol number higher than the weight. Sure. I’d been under stress at work more than usual. It had been 8 months since I’d done anything resembling exercise. I’d been eating a lot of junk food and choking down coffee like nobody’s business (well, I guess like it was Starbucks’ business). Sleep patterns were terrible. I was a health mess.

After the predictable lecture that people with doctorates (and auto mechanics) give like brushing and flossing regularly and changing out the fluids according to the owner’s manual schedule, he wrote a prescription, tore it off and said, “You should get that cholesterol number down and this will take care of that problem for you.”

For some reason, I asked, “What did people do before this medicine existed? I mean, is there another way to do that? I generally don’t like to take prescribed medicines unless I absolutely HAVE to.”

“Well, sure. You have to eat healthy, exercise consistently, get more sleep, and maybe even get a hobby to take your mind off the stress-creators in your life right now. Frankly, Brent, it’s been my experience that very, very, few of my patients are disciplined enough to do those things. But if you’ll commit to doing those things as a lifestyle, you won’t need the prescription.”

I thanked him and told him I’d get serious about my health. He’s a good doctor even though I only go once a year for the free physical my insurance company provides…but I’m sure he’d heard the same story a million times. The same story that dentists and auto mechanics hear about flossing and transmission fluid changes. As I was leaving he said to make sure to fill the prescription if I didn’t change my eating & exercise habits.

Turns out that 231 was my number. 46 pounds heavier than I’d ever been in my life.

The first step was to make sure our membership to the local health club was current. I mean, our old & cheap health club was purchased by a megacorporation and we were in on the old club’s rates. Turns out we were good to go there. Then I called my friend Joyce who is a licensed nutritionist, went to her office, and designed a diet plan that wouldn’t be a fad and took a realistic approach. Since my wife had started a plan of her own a few months before, we had asked for some kitchen/cooking things that would make food preparation/storage less of a hassle. I enlisted a friend to kind of hold me accountable.

None of what I did was “new.” All the information was there before I’d gotten “my number.” I simply needed a kick-start to set up a plan that would help me get going and get all that information in a package that I could use.

Wisdom is the same way according to Proverbs 2. It’s THERE. Always has been.

We’re supposed to seek it like there’s a winning lottery ticket in our house somewhere that we can’t find.
It has an author/originator, who gives it at no cost to the end user.
It has incredible benefits to us: It gives us counsel in right living. It allows our integrity to protect us. It gives us the background for and reason to do every good thing. It seeps into our soul and draws us toward that right lifestyle. In simplest terms: Life.
The contrasting side of wisdom does the exact opposite. Joy in doing evil. Crooked paths. Unprotected journeys. Chasing after fleeting things and glitter and temporary pleasures with unseen payments. Broken marriages. In simplest terms: Death.
Long-term results of the contrast are there: Rest & retirement in the land vs. an unknown exile.

And this life is described as an “if…then” statement we all understand: IF you seek it like lost treasure…THEN you’ll understand reverence for God and what life with Him is like. What’s our number? It should be 2: 4-5.

We should be people who strive to live out the abundant life found only in walking humbly with God. The question is one that is best expressed in a quote I read from Eugene Peterson,

How does it happen that we know so much, and can do so much, but live so badly?

The reality is that we all have fallen victim to “conventional wisdom” of the age. I have no idea what yours are, but you do. I have some idea as to what mine are, too. The world lies to us with striking regularity. Everything from telling us that a cleanser will help a down & out housewife become Madison Avenue’s version of happy smokin’ hot to MTV’s “Cribs” (if that show’s even on anymore) being a lifestyle to be aspired to to a car makes us happy to a college education will make us successful. So it goes.

I guess the question today is two-fold:

First, what’s our number as parents? We know that our children are going to catch more than our pastors can teach. We know that the information is easily out there, yet we’re living so BADLY. What’s going to be the thing that lets us live out searching for that wisdom lottery ticket in front of our children? Are they going to watch us walk humbly with God and live the abundant life found in making sure we know that God is God and we aren’t Him? Are they going to see that we KNOW God? Are they going to see that our honest desire is that they walk well-lit paths of life and that we aren’t leading them down crooked paths where they’re vulnerable to the world’s way of thinking and maybe even “death?”

Which, I think partly holds some degree of answer to the second question: How do we create in our children a very clear sense of wisdom and folly? How do we discover the “number” for our children where they’ll start searching for that lottery ticket on their own? Are they really doing to know God and walk humbly with Him or are they going to buy into the world’s well-worn path to successful mediocrity? Are they going to mistake “death” for “life?”

I heard a friend say the “we live in an age where common sense is considered cutting-edge.” I’d like to re-phrase that a bit for our purposes here: We live in an age where age-old wisdom is considered cutting-edge.

But I’d really like to hear your thoughts on specific ways we can raise “cutting-edge” kids, patrons. So, your thoughts?

P.S. I never needed that prescription, my cholesterol is back in the healthy range, I’ve lost 49 pounds (as of today) and 6 inches of waistline, and I’m on my scheduled week off from training and getting antsy to get moving. However, I’m now a half-inch shorter. The doctor told me I could fix that if I’d hang upside down in a pair of inversion boots for two hours per night for a year or so. He didn’t have any other prescription for that.