Saturday, August 1, 2015

Words to the Wise

When all Israel heard the verdict the king had given, they held the king in awe, because they saw that he had wisdom from God to administer justice.

 -- 1 Kings 3:28
Longtime fans of America's Game remember Yogi Berra as a remarkable ballplayer. The former New York Yankees catcher, outfielder and manager was a 15-time All-Star and a three-time American League Most Valuable Player, and he also caught a perfect game in the 1956 World Series. He attained the sport's greatest honor through his 1972 induction into the Hall of Fame. But the St. Louis native was also well known for his "Yogi-isms," unique words of wisdom about everyday life that often left people scratching their collective heads.
"If you come to a fork in the road, take it," BaseballBerra once advised. Then there was this bit of sage counsel: "You should always go to other people's funerals; otherwise, they won't come to yours." And who could argue when he opined, "You can observe a lot by watching." 

Although Yogi Berra's advice may be brilliant, King Solomon probably beats the iconic Hall of Famer as a resource for wisdom and discernment. In fact, Solomon asked God for wisdom--rather than riches or fame--after he assumed the throne following his father's (King David) death. God honored Solomon's wise request with wisdom beyond human understanding. And great riches and fame soon followed. 

The Bible reveals that Solomon was an effective ruler when he lived by God's standards. Unfortunately, he tended to strike out in his personal life and make poor decisions when he took his eye off the ball. It's through his years of "learning-it-the-hard-way" that Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes, an Old Testament book that summarizes many of the wise king's observations about life. 

His first conclusion is that this is our one and only life. And it's only through God that we can find true happiness. Likewise, our lives are short. Therefore, we must make the most of the opportunities our Creator gives us each day. 

Although life may be brief, it's more like a cross-country marathon than a straight-forward sprint. Jesus confirmed Solomon's observation centuries later: "For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction," Christ warned His followers, "and many enter through it." The takeaway here is that the road to true life is crooked, narrow and hard. And we must enter through its narrow gate rather than follow the crowd on the smooth, easy-access highway to eventual ruin. 

Solomon also wrote that everyone--one way or another--will eventually leave this existence and pass into the next chapter of reality. And since not one of us knows the exact day or hour for that certainty, we must be ready...for both when we'll die and where we'll spend eternity.  

So how do we prepare for the journey when life has so many pitfalls and distractions? The first step is to accept Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior. After all, he's the One who is ready, willing and waiting to wipe away all the failures of our past and give us new life and a fresh start. 

If you think it's too late in life to start over, the good news is that you still have time as long as you're still breathing. Yogi Berra's wise words sum it all up perfectly: "It ain't over 'til it's over."

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