Redneck Wisdom - an Oxymoron
Updated: Jun 2
story by Randy Grathen
Things I’ve learned...
Wisdom - There are only two ways to get it. Live long enough, or hang out with someone who's already got it.
Wisdom does not always go to the elder. I’ve met young people who are wise beyond their years. It comes from experience. The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said, “that which does not destroy me, makes me stronger.” (Or wiser) That is why you rarely encounter any wise Rednecks. Most have succumb to one too many “Hey ya’ll, watch this” (that never ends well especially when alcohol is included.)
God doesn’t waste anything – Every experience in life helps shape our thoughts and mold our personalities. Some for good, others not so much. However, God will use everything in our life for a good purpose at some point in the future. (Romans 8:28) And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose for them. Bad stuff that happens in our life makes us stronger – that’s good. God revels Himself in deeper ways when we go through adversity – that’s good. We can share our newly acquired wisdom with someone else who is going through a similar experience. We can help them understand they are not alone and they're not the first – that’s good.
God is the God of Just in Time - Too often we try to do things in our own strength and timing. We get ourselves into a situation that is heading from bad to worse down that slippery slope accelerating towards catastrophe. When all our human effort to change or reverse course have failed, God steps in. If He intervened too early, we wouldn’t learn the lesson He intended. We might also think it was by our own wisdom and strength that we averted disaster. But when we’ve tried everything and failed, we have no choice but to acknowledge that it was God who saved the day. That way we learn the lesson, and God gets the glory He deserves. (Deu 8:17) and so that you might not say in your heart, My power and the might of my hand has gotten me this wealth.
God will let us fail – just as when you teach a child to ride a bike, you don’t ride it for them, they must do it. You run alongside hands outstretched to catch them if they teeter too far, but you don’t hold on to them. Once they gain confidence, they will try things that will end badly but if it doesn’t kill them, it will make them stronger. (Nietzsche again)
Friendships are for a lifetime – after going through a tornado that destroyed everything, we discovered the one thing that could not be destroyed or taken away from us was our relationships. After 22 years in the Air Force, and living in many places, we have what we call ‘forever friends.’ Those friendships withstand the test of time. They are the one thing you can take with you wherever you go. They don’t weigh anything. They are free, you can’t buy them. They can’t be stolen, burned up in a fire or blown away by a tornado. They can lay dormant for years while you’re separated and rekindled instantly upon being reunited.
Learning to graciously receive – characterized by charm, good taste, generosity of spirit. Accepting a gift in the spirit in which it is given. God often enlists another person to do something special to bless someone. Sometime just to bring a smile to their face, or other times because they desperately need what you have been prompted to offer. To say no thank you, to reject their gift, what you are saying is their gift isn’t good enough. You rob both you and them of God’s intended blessing. You may not see the purpose in the gift, but God may be laying the foundation for another time. The gift might even be intended for someone else, but God needed to get it into your hands so you can fulfill your part later. Never turn down a blessing. Smile, say thank you and graciously receive it.
An empty hand holds unlimited potential – just as with learning to graciously receive, receiving something from God can be meant as a temporary thing. He will put something in your figurative hand when you need it, and remove it when it has served its purpose. But if you clutch it tightly, cling to it, you may never receive anything else again. Learning to let go is an important lesson. Nothing in this life is forever. Everything has its time and season.
Corrie ten Boom and her family helped Jews escape the Holocaust in the Netherlands during World War II. By all accounts her family saved nearly eight hundred lives. She and her family were caught after their home was raided by the Nazi Gestapo. As a prisoner she had nothing. After her release at the end of the war she said this… "Everything I have ever held in my hand, I have lost. Everything I have placed in God’s hand, I still have."
At the end of life, what really matters?
Not what we bought, but what we built: relationships.
Not what we got, but what we shared: charity.
Not our competence, but our character: integrity.
Not our success, but our significance: legacy.
Live a life that matters.
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