By Sherry Bradshaw
Special to Inside The Pew
Eating salads was something I added to my life in college. It was one of those discoveries that I am so glad I made. I love and enjoy a good salad and find great comfort in knowing I am eating healthy. At least that is what I thought for a while until I decided to become a lifelong learner and read more. It was then that I realized choosing the salad bar for a meal didn’t exactly mean I was eating healthy. It was pretty embarrassing when I learned I was intaking as many calories at a salad bar as Thomas was taking in with a burger and fries! I realized I was absolutely deceiving myself on what I thought was a good choice. I love cheese, croutons, among other things, and a salad “drowned” in blue cheese dressing.
I had good intentions and thought I was making the wisest choice. There are many places in life we deceive ourselves. This is just one simple way I was patting myself on the back for nothing! I wasn’t really getting the benefit from my intentions. Proverbs 14:8 states, “The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception.” I was deceived and realized a healthy salad looks more like loads of vegetables on top of very green lettuce with low-fat dressing. Yuk! It is not nearly as good as my former salads, but for sure more beneficial.
Wise choices aren’t always fun nor do they always taste good. Seriously, being wise doesn’t always bring quick satisfaction. Refraining from gossip could exclude you from a popular conversation. Or, if you are really bold and gently call it for what it is, you may not only be excluded, you may lose a friend or draw ridicule. How about choosing to stay in and study when all your friends are going out? How about playing a game on your computer at work when you should be working? Or justifying paying your personal bills online when you are at work? I vividly remember our kids talking about a golfer calling a penalty on himself when his ball moved; no one saw but him. He chose to call the penalty and it inevitably cost him his PGA tour card!
Making wise and right choices aren’t always comfortable and could cost us in the short-term, but almost always, wise choices bring benefits; those benefits can be years in coming. Sometimes the benefits are peace of mind, comfort, and satisfaction that you personally know you did the right thing even if no other human knows it, ever. I have found in life – confronting wrong, making a wise choice, or simply standing for right – can do many things, but it can bring short-term or long time hurt, devastation, or loss. That is where trust comes in. I have found I can’t trust myself nor others as much as I can depend on and trust a Holy God. It promises in Proverbs 4:11, “I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble.”
I love all of scripture but the most encouraging scripture that I read often and draw from to encourage myself to pick Godly wisdom over human desires or daily whims and temptations is the following found in Proverbs 4:20-27. In my Bible, it is under the subtitle “Wisdom is supreme.”
“My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words, Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man’s whole body. Above all else guard your heart; for it is the wellspring of life. Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk from your lips; Let your eyes look straight ahead fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.”
I would like to, but will refrain from writing the whole book of Proverbs from the Bible. If you have never read that book, read it; I believe it is the best book in the Bible on how to live a “wise” life. I have found the more I strive with intention to live the instruction found in the book of Proverbs, the easier it is to run and run with a pace that is challenging, testing, convicting, but most of all, rewarding, and, I do much less stumbling!
Sherry Bradshaw, is author of “The Front Nine: Making Your Shots Count in Life” and founder of Back 9 Ministries. Bradshaw, a native of Columbia, S.C., is a former first runner-up in the Miss America pageant. She speaks at corporate events, schools, churches, and community organization events.