Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true wisdom. All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom” (Psalm 111:10).

I sat for a long time at my dining room table with a tangle of cords and chains, metal and rock, silver and gold, as I tried to separate all of my earrings, bracelets and necklaces from the hopeless state that travel had gotten them into. Usually, it is a task that I like—slow tempo, measurable results, and useful effort. But, this time, the snarl was incredibly complicated. Each time I was able to free a chain or a charm, the whole mess would begin to twirl and wind up, capturing everything again in a different way. The earrings would hook themselves onto the tiny links. The bracelet fasteners would be wound around with threads and string. It was maddening!

As I wondered how much time I should invest in this untangling, I felt the gentle encouragement of the Holy Spirit.

“This is how peoples’ lives sometimes feel to me,” a voice in my head said.

I took a moment to pray for help, even though at some points in my life I would have thought it too trivial. As I pulled and prodded, twisted and untwisted, new ideas began to flow. As I relaxed and thought about other things, what seemed like an insurmountable problem began to look more like something that could be conquered.

Here were the insights I gained from my two hours at the table with the jewelry.

  1. Knowledge is important.

    The material properties of my various necklaces, etc., made a difference in how much pressure I could put on them. There were delicate ones that couldn’t really be pulled too strongly. There were some chains that were tough and hearty. And, I had to know some basic techniques of how to get them apart (I use a pin or a needle to help my hands work better).

    But, knowledge alone could not work out the tangles in an effective or efficient way. If knowing the properties was enough, they should have come immediately apart as soon as I began working with them. It took more.

  2. Understanding is vital.

    To solve the problem I had with the tangled jewelry, I had to understand how I could succeed. I needed to understand that the tangles were sometimes actually knots. I had to understand that some the pieces needed to be unlatched, so they wouldn’t all simply form unending circles. I couldn’t move forward without understanding that the chains and ties would wrap around each other when lifted from the surface of the table.

    And, still, I was two hours at the work, trying to “un-weave” the complicated woof and warp of the knot of things.

  3. Wisdom will win.

    Once I began letting God in on my thinking (and my frustration), the whole exercise turned around. I felt the calm hand of Wisdom teaching me how to be peaceful and intentional, even in a tension-producing situation. Wisdom said, “Take it easy. Don’t rush. Let it happen.” One by one, the chains unwound from each other. The earrings slowly came out of the tangle so that I could set them aside. Bracelets shook off the shackles of the other pieces. I could finally put everything away in its place, happy and content.

There is no doubt that we have plenty of knowledge in today’s world. Some that can be trusted and some that cannot.

And, understanding is available to us with some study and some practice.

But, it is wisdom that will give success; wisdom whose source is the Creator.



Every sale has five basic obstacles: no need, no money, no hurry, no desire, no trust. —Zig Ziglar

Recently I considered joining a new gym. It was about a fifteen minute drive from my apartment. On my first arrival they directed me to a salesman. His spiel didn’t convince me; frankly, I loath sales tactics that prey on the most base aspects of human tendencies. Also, I considered the cost too high. I walked away.

On further research I found a free, five-day trial for the same gym so I went back. I tried Zumba . . .not for me! The spinning class though was right up my alley. I haven’t joined yet because honestly I’m slow to join any group, and I’m a cheapskate! However, the cost doesn’t seem so high anymore, and I’m beginning to believe they have something meaningful to offer me.

It wasn’t their words that convinced me; it was the service they gave me for free.

The Power of Words


“I came from a really rough background,” the man told us as he trained our mission team to be better tutors for the children in our neighborhood. “I was twelve years old, and I didn’t have much going for me.

“One day, I was in a gymnastics class right around the corner from here. The teacher was full of life and all the kids wanted to be around him. At one point as I was trying a gymnastics move, he said something that I will never forget.

He said, ‘This kid won’t quit.’

“If it wasn’t true before he said it, it became true after he said it.

When I went to middle school and had trouble, I said to myself, ‘I’m a kid that doesn’t quit.’ When I thought about not finishing high school, I said ‘I’m a kid that doesn’t quit.’ When I was the first person in my family to go to college and I was facing difficulties, I said, ‘I won’t quit.’ Then I completed graduate school because I am a kid that doesn’t quit. Now I am teaching other people to encourage at-risk children, all because of four words a young teacher said to me when I was a child.”

As I listened to this man talk, I wondered what that gymnastics teacher felt like that day long ago when he went home and his wife said, “How did the day go?”

He might have said, “Not much happened, just the same old work with a bunch of rowdy kids.” We may never know the effect our words have on another person.

When we think about the possibilities for compassion ministries, one of the things to remember is that for many people, it is more important for them to be noticed than for them to have their tangible need met.

Then even the words we speak can have an unexpected power. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue,” the Bible says (Proverbs 18:21).