Life is filled with choices.
Should I study or go play? Should I stay in school or drop out? Should I take this job or wait for a better one? Should I move or stay where I am? Should I seek marriage or remain single?
Some choices are trivial. Some will change your future forever.
After two months at L’Abri it was time for Marilyn and I to move on. We had planned nine months of travel before going back to Denver. I needed to finish a grad program and Marilyn had a full scholarship for a master’s degree in nursing. The next two years of our lives were laid out.
That was easy: “No.” But she didn’t take my first No for an answer.
“I think you should pray about staying.”
I didn’t want to pray about it. But I told her I would. And we did … and decided God was directing us through her question. We stayed, and that decision changed our lives profoundly.
The wisdom literature of the Bible often poses simple, clear choices between two opposite alternatives.
For example, we read in Proverbs about two alternatives: wisdom and folly. Often, the writer represents these alternatives as women: lady wisdom and a prostitute. Proverbs is addressed to the young man, so the writer uses a word picture relevant to his reader: two women calling to the youth. One is a woman of virtue; she pictures wisdom. The other is a harlot, an adulteress who represents folly.
They have opposite natures. Wisdom is a lady, folly a liar. The first is honorable, the other disreputable.
They issue from different houses, the home and the brothel. They make opposing appeals, one to righteousness, one to seduction. Their words lead to two paths, the straight or the crooked, paths with opposite ends, life or death.
We see the woman folly in 9:13: The woman Folly is loud; she is seductive and knows nothing.
Both women are talking to the same man. Each is trying to persuade him to follow them. Folly tries to seduce him. She enslaves and impoverishes all who listen to her. She is a seducer, a predator, beautiful to behold, but deadly to embrace.
Many predators in the animal kingdom are beautiful but deadly. A cheetah is a good example. No one wants to meet a predator in the wild, much less keep it in your house. Solomon says that includes the woman Folly.
Lady Wisdom speaks to us as well. To embrace her is to live free and flourish.
Lady Wisdom is held in high esteem. She is a hard worker, generous of spirit, faithful and disciplined.
God created humans and the world they inhabit, and calls us to walk in His wisdom. The enemy, on the other hand, seduces us to folly, and folly ruins human lives.
Life includes choices between two paths
The original language of Proverbs uses two words which are translated “path” in the English. One word speaks of a road, and metaphorically, is used of our manner or conduct, our way of life. The Hebrew indicates a way of behavior, and the destination, the destiny toward which we are moving.
The other term connotes one’s direction, deriving from a literal sense of a well-worn path. Sometimes a hiker is following a trail and it can hardly be seen. At other times the trail is easy to follow. When we are walking on the path, our way is clear of obstructions. When we wander from the path, we encounter needless difficulty.
Several years ago Gary was hunting when night fell and he had to find his way out of the woods in the dark. He had followed a trail into the area earlier in the day, but in the dark he couldn’t find it. As a result, he ended up stumbling through fallen timber. In one hand he was carrying his bow. The other hand was gripping a heavy, portable tree stand (a platform a hunter attaches to a tree to gain elevation). In the dark, carrying this equipment, trying to keep his footing through multiple layers of downed trees, he was falling often, scrambling back to his feet, wondering how much further his aching muscles had to take him. It was a frustrating exercise to say the least. He traversed several hundred yards of extremely difficult terrain before finally coming to the road, out of breath and sweating profusely. Only then did he see that he had paralleled the trail just a few yards to his left. What a difference a cleared path makes!
Life brings us to two paths, that of Lady Wisdom and that of woman Folly. Two diverse routes, two choices, with two very different ends. That’s why it’s so important to choose well. Which path you take will determine where you end up. One path leads to life, the other to death, one to flourishing, the other to decay.
You choose the path. You cannot choose the consequences but you can choose the path.
What are some of the choices you have made that changed the course of your life?
From a forthcoming book by Darrow Miller and Gary Brumbelow