In the “herb garden” of my life, several sages have sprinkled me with spices of wisdom. (I have really not earned the right to talk about gardening as I have no experience and am the exact opposite of a green thumb). I do know a little bit about cooking and getting the right flavors to come together. Three wise people have helped me get the pertinent flavors of my faith theme to come together. In my life, the theme has been consistent. It starts with trust and ends with obedience.
I marvel at the sages God has brought into my life to add just the right amount of seasoning to my messy life at just the right times. To turn my attention to believing that God is Who He says He is. To deepen my understanding of being made righteous in Christ. To love the Lord by following His Word. God has been the Gardener all along – He sent these three…
One sage was Esther (“Pat”) S. Ruffin (deceased). I was introduced to this remarkable lady when I served many years ago as the capital campaign coordinator for a local Christian school. When I knew her, she was elderly and lived in a local retirement community. Her graciousness was beyond compare! It was three simple words that she shared with me while I was driving her to a campaign reception one day. “Trust and obey.” That was it. She summed up all of the life of faith in these three words. She was right. With many years behind her, she was the voice of experience.
Whenever I need to make sense of things, all I need to do is recall Mrs. Ruffin’s words of wisdom. No need to try and analyze life beyond the simple yet challenging notion of trusting God completely and obeying His Word. In John 14:12,15 Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing. If you love Me, you will obey what I command.”
Like most folks, I have experienced some big failures over my lifetime. The severe limits of my human reasoning have taken me down some bad roads. The more I contemplate Mrs. Ruffin’s words, the more I have known that she spoke truth. Simply and beautifully.
The next sage was Pastor Dick Woodward (deceased). He was my Bible teacher for one year when I was a high school student long long ago. But, in later years, he became my pastor, co-capital campaigner, and bedside counselor. During one of those memorable failures of mine, he had a similar piece of advice. Psalm 4:5 says “Offer the sacrifices of the righteous and trust in the Lord.” Basically, offer God what he requires and trust Him for all the results. Pastor Woodward said it would be easy for me to remember because the reference number was my then age, 45. I always loved his sense of humor despite his battle with debilitating pain, paralysis and confinement to bed. He stated the truth simply and beautifully. As he always had.
Always a sage – my dad. Dad didn’t exactly sprinkle me with wisdom. He poured it on thick! He had to. He was my dad and I was his stubborn and rebellious daughter. Let’s face it. I still am. I remember Dad let me learn from him as he handled a big failure in my early years. He taught me that we all fall short and that humbling things have a sanctifying effect on us by God’s perfect design. I needed that. Consistently, Dad has been the one who has faithfully taught and encouraged the whole family the preciousness of studying and knowing God’s Word. Over and over and over again, he too has boiled down God’s truth to the same simple and beautiful thing – “trust and obey.”
So, I am grateful. Grateful that God put authentic sages in my winding path, if I would only listen. Grateful that God gave me a love for His Word. Grateful that wisdom is not ever far away. Psalm 37:30,31 says, “The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks what is just. The law of his God is in his heart; his feet do not slip.” And, James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” Savor this!
Psalm 40:4 “Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods.”