The famous preacher and author Chuck Swindoll was in the Marines as a young man. On one occasion, he was on board a ship that was cruising into the harbor of Taipei, Taiwan. When they got within less than a mile of the port, the ship suddenly stopped. They waited as a man in a small boat came out to meet them. This man was the harbor pilot. He climbed on board, took the wheel, and guided the boat the rest of the way. Some of the Marines thought this was a silly formality; after all, why couldn’t their own captain take the boat into port, since he had brought them this far? But then they noticed that the harbor pilot was steering the boat in an odd course, weaving back and forth through the harbor on the way to the shore. They looked over the side of the boat, and down deep under the water, they saw the reason why. There were mines in that harbor, below the surface of the water. Anyone who tried to sail into Taipei harbor would surely be blown to bits—unless the harbor pilot was at the wheel. Only he knew where the mines were.You and I live in Taipei harbor. In every step we take, every decision we make, there are potential mines waiting to blow us out of the water. That attractive, vibrant person you work with, who you find yourself daydreaming about at random moments of the day--six months from now, you may find yourself in a relationship with that person that has destroyed your family and made your life a living hell. This week, a friend may convince you to sink money you don’t really have into an investment that’s "a can't-miss opportunity"; two years later, you’ll be declaring bankruptcy. This very afternoon, you might lose your temper because of some jerk on the freeway and end up doing something you’ll regret the rest of your life. Face it, sooner or later, nearly all of us manage to make a mess out of our lives. No matter how smart we may think we are, or who we may consult, we can’t see the mines in the harbor. Unless we give the wheel to the harbor pilot. There is only one right way, and only He knows it.
All this year, I have been preaching on the topic of "representing Christ in a non-Christian culture." We've looked at various attributes we need in order to live out our faith in these challenging times: Boldness, faith, prayer, holiness, etc. For this last series of the year, I want to talk about one more important attribute: Wisdom. We often confuse wisdom with knowledge, but the two are very different. Knowledge is assimilating information; Wisdom is (my definition) being good at life. Imagine if Christians were universally known for being dependable, smart, capable, rock-solid individuals who others sought to learn from. That is what we were meant to be. No, we won't all be successful in the estimation of this world, but we should all be men and women of wisdom. What does that look like in real life? Over the next several weeks, leading up to Christmastime, we'll take a look at the book of Proverbs, and see what it really means to be good at life.