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Reflections: Seek God early

After wrapping up a study of the short, practical New Testament book of James, the First5 app has moved to the wisdom of Proverbs. In much of Proverbs, the writer uses personification to portray wisdom, often as a woman calling out to young people to pay attention.

 

Proverbs 8:17 says, “I [wisdom] love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.” In context, wisdom describes itself as foundational to a successful life. Scholars vary, however, as to the interpretation of the original word translated in English as “early.” Some emphasize the importance of acquiring wisdom in the young, tender years, while others interpret the word as urging the reader to seek wisdom as highest priority, before all else. In practical application, I realize both concepts are important.

 

Early learning and experiences affect our entire lives: Childhood trauma often resurfaces as insecurities or addictive behaviors in adults; children who are not exposed to formal language development and certain cultural experiences may lack the interpersonal skills to get a job and succeed in life.

 

Conversely, many adults credit positive lessons learned from parents, wise teachers at school or church, and other key role models during their childhood, with helping them make good life choices. Reading material and entertainment matter, too—any discussion on work ethics or social programs reminds me of my aunt reading “The Little Red Hen” and then putting me to work dusting furniture or snapping green beans. (To be honest, some current children’s literature and TV leave me scratching my head in bewilderment.) As a parent or grandparent, we must make sure the influences in our kids’ lives are morally upright and constructive.

 

I also realize, though, how important the “priority” interpretation of the Proverbs passage is. We are bombarded with 24/7 news and commentary, and not all of it is wise. When I open my phone or computer in the morning, it takes a conscious decision to click the Bible study app before getting distracted by social media or email. Even the mundane can distract—jumping up to add something to the grocery list; helping my husband get organized for the school day; you get the idea. Before I know it, a dozen details and questions are needing an answer, but my handling of them is much better informed if I take time to read the Bible, pray over my schedule, and allow the Holy Spirit to guide my day.

 

I’ve developed a general idea of what is healthy and budget-friendly, so I don’t pray specifically over what brand of cereal or hairspray to buy, but what about following the Holy Spirit’s prompting to initiate friendly interaction with the person in the same store aisle who is clearly unhappy? If a financial decision is pending, there’s much less anxiety if my husband and I spend time in prayer together before feeling obligated to answer every email.

 

Does this Proverbs verse remind me to be thankful for positive childhood experiences and try to help ensure my grandkids have good learning experiences as well? Yes. Does it remind me to keep prioritizing and starting my day with prayer and Bible study? Also yes. Whether in age or in priority, seek God early!

 

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