Consequence or wisdom – it’s your choice
Lessons are often learned the hard way, as Dave Newton discovered as a youngster when he tried out a parachute.
I was ten years old, perched on our flat garage roof about to leap off to test our newly discovered parachute.
My older brother had convinced me that the new self-opening umbrella my mum had recently acquired would support my light, if not slightly gullible, frame safely to the ground. The training had taken place and the instructions were simple: jump, press the button and hold on tight.
Without a moment of hesitation, fully convinced my brother had introduced me to something that would help me fly, I launched into the air.
Following the basic instructions, I was expecting on pressing the button for time to slow down as I floated back to earth. In reality, before I could blink and the umbrella could properly open, I crashed to the floor with a scream, badly twisting my ankle in the process.
In his book ‘Divine Mentor’ Wayne Cordeiro suggests there are two teachers in life both of whom we can learn a lot from; however, both come at a high cost.
The first is consequence. Sitting in the hospital waiting-room, having faced the wrath of my mum and jeers of my older brother, I was sitting firmly at the feet of this teacher. It was easy to associate the pain I was experiencing with the behaviour that had led to that pain. In this instance my payment to this teacher was not too significant – a few days resting my foot – but generally, the consequence can demand so much.
It is a really tough teacher because the time you learn is always after the event in the pain of the situation you land in, and sometimes the cost can be lost years of marriage or ministry.
Solomon writes in Proverbs: “A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences,” (Proverbs 22:3).
The second teacher, wisdom, has a heavy cost too, but in contrast to that of consequence, wisdom expects the payment up front. The class of wisdom includes discipline, consistency, commitment, obedience and, above all else, time.
In today’s world, this can seem an unfashionable, outdated method of learning and payment, so many ignore what this teacher has to offer.
As Cordeiro writes, “Wisdom teaches you the lesson before you make the mistake, consequence demands that you make the mistake first.”
As you read this article I wonder if there are any ledges that you are perched on that if you jump will have serious consequences; consequences that will impact your work, ministry, relationships with people close to you or people’s ability to trust you. James reminds us we can listen so easily to the wrong people and find ourselves in patterns of behaviour that years before we would never have imagined – or we can get wisdom that comes from on high.
“But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace-loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favouritism and is always sincere,” (James 3:17).
Thankfully for me, the lesson that umbrellas can’t replace parachutes did not have too many long-term implications. It’s not too late to allow wisdom to become your teacher; whilst you may experience the pain of discipline up front, you may just save yourself from some concrete collisions down the line.
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