Are you listening?

A former business associate of mine once quoted what he called an ancient Asian proverb, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” It turns out that the pithy saying is neither Asian nor ancient, but it does convey a very practical principle.

It’s the flip side of wishing someone had told us something earlier, and implies that the real reason we missed a nugget of wisdom is that we weren’t really looking for it. “Don’t confuse me with facts after my mind is made up.” That kind of thing.

We know this because some of our most memorable life lessons have come when we knowingly ignored the counsel of those who love us and would never harm us. I’ll bet you can think of some personal examples.

It must have been someone cruel who first said, “Experience is the best teacher,” for while experience definitely is an effective teacher, she often is harsh and unforgiving. Much better it is to realize early that life is far too short to make all of your own mistakes.

I don’t have to become an addict to see the results of addiction.
I don’t have to go to jail to see the effects of crime on the criminal.
I don’t have to be promiscuous to see the danger of STD’s.
I don’t have to refuse work to see what happens to the indolent.

I just have to listen in order to learn. I just have to observe the law of sowing and reaping in the lives of others to see how that behavior worked out for them and would work out for me.

But it’s precisely here where pride kicks into high gear and convinces me that in MY case, it’s different. I can beat the system. I know the workaround. I’m smarter than _______, and I can get away with it. No, we don’t say those things out loud. It would sound ridiculous.

But we act as if they were so, running past the warning signs and ignoring conscience, family, friends, and yes, God Himself.

In fact, Solomon portrays Wisdom as a fine lady who has prepared a feast fit for a king, and then invites the whole city to her banquet table (Proverbs 9:1-6):
“Wisdom has built her house;
she has hewn out its seven pillars.
She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine;
she has also set her table.
She has sent out her maids,
and she calls from the highest point of the city.
‘Let all who are simple come in here!’
she says to those who lack judgment.
‘Come, eat my food
and drink the wine I have mixed.
Leave your simple ways and you will live;
walk in the way of understanding.'”

Doesn’t sound like there’s a special secret reserved only for a select few, does it? Sounds more like the Teacher has been ready long before we are.

I (Wisdom) love those who love me;
and those who seek me find me.
Proverbs 8:17

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