I was born to a wise father. He was “seasoned” when he married at 42 and up to that point had lived a life of integrity while overcoming obstacles. Age plus integrity plus overcoming equals wisdom.
Dad told us he never thought he’d live long enough to see his children graduate from high school, much less college. Children-in-law and grandchildren were off his radar, yet God blessed him with 92 years of near-perfect health and sound thinking. He saw his kids graduate from college, marry and deliver 15 of 17 grandchildren. Not bad for a late bloomer born in 1899.
Dad loved learning, and no subject was off limits. Coupled with a sharp memory, his accumulated knowledge was formidable. An architect and structural engineer by day, he became my high school math tutor by night. I struggled with algebra to the point of tears, which is when I’d look for Dad, knowing he’d never refuse to help me.
His tutoring, however, was torture. Approaching him for one quick answer, my heart would sink as I watched him thumb backwards through the textbook to “see where you’ve been.” He’d get so enamored with the numbers it took 20 minutes just to get back to the current assignment. And as with all wise people, he wouldn’t give out answers. Instead he tried to increase my understanding, and beyond that, to drag me into a happy relationship with math. (Negative on both counts.)
But oh, how I admired Dad. He wasn’t emotional like I was and didn’t burst into tears when life became overwhelming. He tackled problems methodically, demonstrating a skill that was foreign to me. When I needed wise guidelines for choosing a husband, Dad was ready and actually had a list: 1) Christian beliefs, 2) a sense of humor, 3) good health, 4) respect of family, 5) love of children. In the end, I married a man who passed muster on all five points. As a matter of fact, the man I chose was much like Dad.
Although I never had to solve another algebra problem after marrying, I often went to Nate for his opinion on other matters. He was endlessly patient and, just like Dad, would never turn me away. He often thought about our discussions long after they were over, coming up with additional possibilities days later. With all he had to worry about in the business world, I considered that to be true love.
When Nate died, death muzzled him. Although I have his past counsel and can guess how he might advise me about new dilemmas, the absence of his opinion is one of my greatest losses. As with most couples, we were opposites, and contemplating his flip side to my viewpoint always tempered what I would do next. His words coaxed me to think out of my box and gave me a level head.
Sometimes when I asked Nate for counsel, his advice was so far from my opinion, I struggled to believe that following it would be wise. But I’d remember that in the Lord’s couple-economy, the man was given headship and would, as a result of this God-established order, be given God’s wisdom, which he would then pass on to me.
If I followed Nate’s recommendation even when it seemed contrary to my own, things often turned out well. Knowing God protects and nurtures what he’s established, this shouldn’t have surprised me.
When Nate got cancer, I stopped asking for his opinion four weeks into the six he had left. The disease had begun superimposing its influence over his ideas, and I never knew which voice was talking. Thankfully I’m surrounded by other wise guides who’ve stepped willingly into the counselor role for me, again and again.
And at the top of them all is the Lord himself, our “wonderful Counselor.” (Isaiah 9:6) He’s already been my caring Father and heavenly Husband, so I have every reason to believe he’ll come through as my proficient Advisor in days to come. And just like Dad and Nate, I know he will never turn me away.
“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and the one who comes to me I will certainly not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me.” (John 6: 37-38)