Wisdom’s Pleasant Path

“Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.”

The Book of Proverbs, chapter 3, verse 17

Thus the ancient preceptor described the ways of the wisdom that comes from above, the wisdom by which, he declares, the Lord himself founded the earth and established the heavens, back when the dew of the world was still fresh on the morning grass, all things were declared very good, and man walked those pleasant paths in the cool of the evening, in peaceful fellowship with the God whose image he bore.

Today, by contrast, the most casual observer, if he takes an honest look around the landscape, must confess that the world is broken. Evil abounds, and the dark heart of man ever devises new forms into which to mold the old wickedness that fills our cold souls, while stubbornly convinced that the fault lies in our stars and not in ourselves. The simple path of pleasant wisdom was lost in that awful moment when our foolish forebear elected to turn aside to paths of his own devising, and that first fellowship was left shattered in shards on the cursed ground beneath his feet.

Now, search as we may, true peace is as elusive as godly wisdom is rare. Man’s own devices have developed wisdom of a different sort that, while unlocking many mysteries and accomplishing amazing things in the service of his own glory, has yet to discover the philosopher’s stone whose alchemy is capable of turning the base metal of discontent into the gold of true and lasting inner peace.

Most men simply sample fashionable forms of self-indulgence whose satisfaction is as lasting as the steam that rises from a hot desert road after a sudden rain, all the while desperately maintaining the brittle wooden structure of rationalizations in which they have persuaded their uneasy consciences to abide, like fortresses built with toothpicks, Popsicle sticks, and Elmer’s glue. The world’s religious systems argue about whose toothpicks are strongest and whose Popsicle sticks are best, but deep down we know that none of these will stand, and all we’ll get for leaning on them is splinters in the hand. And so we have no peace.

 And yet, 
     her path of peace remains.
And it remains a way of pleasantness
     for all of those she trains.
But now wisdom wears a dull disguise.
     In foolishness her entrance hides.

As orange tinted glasses hide the color blue, we’ve seen the world so long through the lens of our own pride that we can hardly perceive the truth that our own inner poverty and corruption are the source of our deep-seated unhappiness. And we are so attached to our fragile fortresses and dull distractions, as familiar as they are ineffective, that any suggestion of letting them go is deemed ridiculous. We cling to the illusion of control like desperate, petty despots, knowing we are unfit to rule, yet unwilling to yield the throne.

We are, in fact, so hopelessly lost, ensnared, and alienated from the source of true peace that it took a literal act of God to reopen the way, and it takes another act of God to place our feet upon it. Bad news to our comfort and our pride, but good news to the heart that longs for peace.

The God who made all things, including us, and who suffered us to turn our backs on him in open rebellion, is rich in mercy and loving toward all he has made. And in an inconceivable act of loving condescension, he became a man in order that he might pay the just penalty for the sin and rebellion of his people, redeem us from our hopeless state, and open once again the path of peace.

What did this look like? Jesus Christ, God become man, lived a perfect life, then layed it down willingly, at the hands of sinful men, as a substitution – the innocent for the guilty – that the guilty might go free. Psalms 85:10 expresses it beautifully, “Lovingkindness and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” He was executed by Roman crucifixion, but rose from the dead three days later. Then he ascended into heaven and now he reigns sovereignly over this broken world and has sent out his call to all mankind to turn from sin and follow him.

 Now all who heed his simple call, 
     "Come unto me, and rest,"
will find their feet set on the path
     of peaceful pleasantness.

This is where the second act of God occurs. God himself describes it as being “born of the Spirit” or “born of God.” In an unfathomable act of creation, no less profound than when he spoke light into the heavenly void, he births new, eternal, spiritual life into the bent soul of a fallen man. The man knows only that he looked in faith upon the Son of God, crucified for him, and believed. Suddenly the world has shifted on its axis and nothing is as it was or seemed.

He instantly has a sense that a crushing weight of fear and dread that had been borne so long he can’t recall its absence has suddenly evaporated into a sunlit summer’s day, and he walks with such a lightness it’s as though angels lift his every step and heavenly choirs accompany him on his way. Perhaps most surprising of all, he discovers that his very tastes and preferences have changed. He has a new love for God and a deep concern for others that wasn’t there before, and is suddenly repulsed by coarse and vulgar things that were once familiar and enjoyable. He hardly recognizes himself, but rejoices exceedingly at the transformation, and each day becomes a day of delight as he discovers the world anew. At least that’s how it was for the man who is writing these words.

 Then new challenges arise 
     to test the mettle of the man,
New problems and new enemies
     are suddenly at hand.
And bit by bit he starts to see
     his mettle's made of rust,
And in the end it's only in
     his God that he can trust.
 So don't be fooled, this path of peace 
     is not a path of ease.
It's not a path of laziness
     or doing as you please.
 The narrow way of righteousness 
     and sacrificial love
requires perseverance
     and a strength from up above.
It's not a path of outward peace,
     where all things go your way.
Sometimes it's steep and lined with thorn,
or wading deep through mock and scorn.
Its travelers may seem forlorn
to curiosity's sharp gaze.
 It's not a path where you avoid 
     emotion's stormy gale,
or stop the winds of grief and pain
     from ripping up the sail.
Instead, true wisdom's path of peace
     is bedrock to the soul.
A firm foundation anchored fast,
     withstanding every stormy blast,
and keeping you until at last
     death's bitter storm has passed.
 And when your eyes are opened 
     and the final battle's won,
You'll gaze amazed into a face
     that blazes like the sun,
And yet behold such kindness there,
     such tender love apprised,
Away will flee your ev'ry care
     when finally you've realized…
 The path was Christ; in him abides 
     all treasures of the truly wise.
Christ our anchor through the tides.
     Christ the bedrock of our lives.
All the riches we could own
     are found in him and him alone.
Christ our best and final home,
     and though it may sound odd,
The heritage of all who trod
     the pleasant path of peace with God.

© Craig Sabin 2019 No rights reserved. Image credit: Jill Wellington from Pixabay

2 thoughts on “Wisdom’s Pleasant Path

  1. Craig, thank you for this powerful Truth. Words fitly spoken with precision that pierce the heart, spurring it on to greater love of the Lord our God. Man’s fragile reasonings crumble before contact with the Mighty Living God. Blessings to you!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s