My Musings

Going Deep
(Wisdom Down Under)

Going Deep <br> (Wisdom Down Under)

On the surface, the book of Proverbs looks like a collection of maxims and mottos—filled with good advice. Actually, it goes deeper than that. Scratch the surface and Proverbs becomes a profound call to worship God!

Worship is more than a church service. It’s about holding God up for ultimate respect, trust and awe. Proverbs practically equates wisdom with worship. As God’s children, we are walking worship services–in the marketplace, social circles, the family, the workplace and beyond.

Need proof? In Proverbs, everything boils down to fearing God. That’s where wisdom begins (Proverbs 1:7 and 9:10). God is no afterthought in Proverbs and neither is His purpose: “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will be established.” (19:21). Instead of telling us to trust our insight and understanding, Proverbs advises, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (3:5). Instead of finding your way forward, “acknowledge Him” and let Him “make your path straight” (3:6). Proverbs is less about pursuing success than finding favor in the sight of God (3:4; 8:35 and 12:2). A good wife is an excellent find but God’s good pleasure is the point (18:22). Handling money wisely is crucial, but Proverbs calls us to “honor the Lord” with our wealth (3:9). That’s worship!

Our 2014 Teen Camp theme at Prince’s Pine was “Going Deep!” Since Proverbs is a deep well of wisdom, I went there for my Monday night message. I scratched the proverbial surface by recalling ten lessons I learned on a scuba diving trip I took to the land down under at the Great Barrier Reef (GBR):

  1. Awe is in order. Australia offers a whole new perspective on the wonders of God’s creation. Looking up, one sees not Orion but the Southern Cross in the evening sky. On land, you’ll see Koala bears and kangaroo. And under water, especially at the GBR, the shapes, colors and pace of life are marvelously different. Ever seen a clown fish? And Proverbs reminds us that the sea will not overstep God’s command. After all, “He marked out the foundations of the earth.” (8:29).
  2. “Pay attention and gain understanding.” (4:1). It’s fine to be in awe but when you go deep, you better stay alert and sober too. Life is healthier and happier for us all that way.
  3. Balance Learning with Living. You can’t get certified to Scuba dive by just studying books, tables and charts. You gotta get into the water. Practice! But remember, you can’t get certified without the book either. Learn and live. Live and learn. A wise man said, “Receive instruction in wise behavior, righteousness, justice and equity.” (1:3).
  4. Always go with a buddy. The first rule in Scuba diving is: NEVER go alone. During one of my 19 dives at the GBR, I ran out of air early and my buddies came up with me. They could have stayed down longer but for all the joys of the deep, people and safety come first. Under water or above, we all need friends. Back to Proverbs: “But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (18:24).
  5. Respect your limits. If you go too deep for too long, you pay! In fact, the deeper you go, the higher the risk. You must keep track of your depth, time and pressure levels respecting the limitations they impose on you. Living for the moment and following your own heart or your own “reality” is a foolish way to dive and a unwise way to live. Respecting your limits adds to your freedom and enjoyment. Real reality comes with boundaries. Ignore them and there may be no tomorrow. Listen: “There is a way that seems right to a man but in the end leads to death.” (14:12).
  6. Live and let live. Diving down under, I saw a shark just my size. I chose not to pick on it. Always remember, “It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.” (20:3).
  7. Communication Counts. Language is an amazing well-honed gift from our forebears. Never take it for granted. Scuba divers use sign language under water but they don’t wait till then to begin communicating. After all, “The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters.” (18:4).
  8. We never advance beyond the basics. Complications related to breathing compressed air under water abound. Yet, according to my instructor, they all boil down to this: “Breathe regularly; never hold your breath.” Life on land is also complicated. So love regularly! Never hold it in. Proverbs says, “Love covers all transgressions.” (10:12).
  9. “Whoever heeds correction shows prudence.” (15:5, NIV). I surfaced from one of my GBR dives only to reap the wrath of our dive master. He imposed a depth limit and I broke it. I was not minding #2 above. Excuses were worthless. His rebuke stood. I never did it again. Eventually, I even felt grateful.
  10. Going deep is a discipline, not a whim or sudden urge. Life presents us with amazing beauties and curiosities that call us to go below the surface, but curiosity can kill the cat. Study and train, then dive for the depths. Discipline has a way of opening up opportunities. Befriend the Bible, including Proverbs and its challenge to; “Apply your heart to discipline, and your ears to words of knowledge.” (23:12).
  11. All in all, you have not yet seen it all and you never will. Nevertheless (I love that word), keep looking. Keep learning. Keep loving! Life is an ongoing adventure in discovery. Better still, you are a walking worship service!


About the Author:

Joel graduated from Pepperdine University with a B.A., completing two majors: Art and Religion. He went on to earn the Master of Divinity degree from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. The views expressed on this blog are personal and belong to Joel Solliday unless otherwise stated. They are not, intended to characterize the views of the Lewiston Church of Christ or other organizations to which I may refer.

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