What is our work? Who will we marry? Should we say yes or no when others influence us to do something we know isn’t right? When problems arise, and they inevitably do, where can we turn for wisdom?
Many years ago, I learned to take Scripture to heart, to trust that when I ask for guidance, it will be given; if I knock, the door will indeed be opened. The Quaker faith teaches that each person has a Divine spark within and that, as William Shewen wrote in the 1600s, “That which makes a people blessed and happy is that they hear and obey the still small voice within, which says, this is the way, walk in it.”
When I was in my early 30s, I was giving a summer course of several days at a family retreat centre. By the third day, I was suffering from severe headaches, very unusual for me. Aspirin failed to reduce the pain.
At dinner, a woman took pity on me and gave me what sounded like an outrageous suggestion. She said, “Why don’t you meditate and find out what’s wrong?” “What? How can that help?” I said, aware that I could hardly think straight, much less meditate. She said, “Your spirit already knows what’s wrong with your body. Just ask God to enlighten you.”
I was so desperate, I tried it. I sat under a tree, closed my eyes, and prayed, “God, please tell me what’s wrong with me.” To my absolute shock, I “heard” with my mind, the words, “You haven’t had anything to drink for days. You are dehydrated. Drink four glasses of water and keep drinking.”
The retreat centre served only sweetened iced tea which I didn’t like so I hadn’t been drinking at all. I followed that wisdom and within an hour, my headache had disappeared. After that I trusted the truth of Jeremiah 33:3: “Call to me and I will answer you and show you great and hidden things that you do not know,” and the Baha’i Writings: “In meditation, things of which man knew nothing are unfolded before his sight…He is the prayer-hearing, prayer-answering God.” From that time on, as I learned to ask for guidance and then to listen in meditation, amazing things have happened. It was through this prayerful process that I was guided how to get on the Oprah show, to heal from severe Post-Polio, and even to come to Aitutaki, which means “Guided by the hands of the gods.”
Proverbs 8:12 -14 says “I Wisdom, am mistress of discretion, the inventor of lucidity of thought. Good advice and sound judgment belong to me, perception…strength…”
When you need to make a decision, here are three virtues to help you to call on the power of wisdom:
- Discernment: First, clarify what is your question. Hold the issue lightly, reflect and listen for wisdom. Be open to inspiration. In prayer, there is the asking part and the listening part. Just as you wouldn’t hang up if you phone someone, don’t disconnect before you do the listening part of meditation. Trust that the truth will be revealed to you.
- Decisiveness: When you know in your heart the deepest truth on the matter, make the decision. Be confident and don’t waver. If the decision is right for you and for others, it will be confirmed.
- Determination: Once the decision is made, have the determination to act on it. Without action prayer is incomplete. As you act you become a magnet attracting Divine assistance.
Wisdom is the guardian of our choices. It is one of the most powerful virtues and is the only path to truly sustainable decisions.