One of my activities that increases during times like now when we are camping, and have extra free time is my journaling. I use my journaling as a tool to try and figure out who I am and how I am doing in my character growth as I pursue the character of Jesus. A major character area that I desperately want to grow in is in my level of wisdom. I want to think and choose and act like Jesus would. I have a scales that I can step on, and it tells me how much I weigh. My doctor can do some blood work and measure a number of things that indicate good health or problems in my physical body. I can take a test and my level of intelligence can be determined. Wisdom, how do I measure the amount of wisdom that I have? The New Testament book of James says that if any of us lack wisdom we can ask God and He will give us some. It seems that the lack of wisdom would be universal and the lack of it would go without saying in all of us. I think what I want to know about myself is, “Am I getting wiser as I grow older or am I just staying the same or going backwards?” Proverbs 8:11 says, “For wisdom is better than jewels; And all desirable things cannot compare with her,” and verse 17 says, “I love those who love me; And those who diligently seek me will find me.” What would prompt and motivate the diligent pursuit of wisdom in me would be a clear indicator of my level of being a fool. I have a friend who when his kids were young would regularly ask them, “was that a wise thing to do or say”? It would be so cool if God would ask me that question throughout the day, forcing me to think about my decision or words, whether I was acting in wisdom or being a fool. I have started asking myself that question in my daily journaling time. The first area of questioning is everything that I have purchased that day. I can be very impulsive and periodically I will buy something that I later recognize as being really stupid. The second area of evaluation is the words that I have spoken to people, especially spontaneous conversations, I can say some extremely dumb things. My hope is that as I daily review my behavior as being wise or foolish I will learn and grow in wisdom, that is my hope anyway.
I have my favorite spot in camp where I have my chair, and I move it around the clump of quaking aspen trees to keep it in the shade except in the morning and evening when I like to sit in the sun to stay warm. In my chair I read my Bible, I pray through my prayer journal, I read the book I am on now, I work at memorizing Philippians, I write my blog, I think about and write on the syllabus for my new seminar that I am going to teach this January, I work on writing new ministry goals, I read and refine my Leadership Class material, and I write in my journal as I reflect about myself and what I need to work on most in my life in the way of character flaws. I am always taken back by the marked increase in my clarity of thinking, my creative thinking, and my reflective thinking while up here. It seems so much more focused, energized, and undistracted here.
We are camped at 8,000 feet so I am still having some altitude issues, Patty way more than me. The wind is usually blowing some which makes a unique sound through the quaking aspens, and the view from our camp of sage brush and quaking aspen groves is beautiful. We bought this new blow up queen size air mattress and put a 4 inch thick piece of memory foam on top of that, and I have been sleeping like a baby, so nice. Our routine is pretty simple, sleep, eat, hunt, fish, eat, sit in my chair, eat some more, fish some more, take a nap, eat some more, fish some more, hunt, sit in my chair, sleep. I am not doing anything on schedule, or because I am supposed to do it, but we do sleep mostly at night, but beyond that, whatever I want to do, whenever I want to do it. That is just part of my system of getting ready to go full steam ahead when I get home with goals, to do lists, and constant checking schedule and pace.
I have been planning my and Patty’s camping/hunting trip to the Steen’s Mountains for months. You would think with all the time and thought I would have thought of everything and remembered everything, yep you would have thought. How do you light a lantern or a camp stove? With a match or a lighter, yep forgot those. How do you carry your arrows while hunting? On a bow quiver that fastens neatly to your bow, I own two of them, forgot them both! What do you put your deer or elk in after cleaning them to keep the flies off, a game bag, forgot those as well. There is about a dozen more things we have discovered that we have forgotten on our first day, but a quick trip into Burns solved most of the problems. I did remember my bow and arrows, my deer and elk tags, and Patty!
Yesterday was our 50th wedding anniversary and we had a celebration party at Lake Charles. It was a very blessed time for me for a number of reasons, one was the obvious joy that comes from my wife, Patty, at events like this, a second was the great fellowship with those who came to honor us, but the greatest source of blessing came from my 6 kids that were there and were part of the planned program. Each one of them had a part sharing things about Patty and I as their parents over the years as they grew up. The words that they shared were very honoring of us and it was very nice to hear their memories and impressions of us, but the main source of blessing wasn’t what they said about us, it was the obvious character, maturity, confidence, and wisdom that they each one demonstrated and portrayed as they shared and talked. I was very proud of each one of them, and was so impressed with who each one had become as a person. Afterwards I was chatting with a friend and they commented on what good public speakers each of my kids were, and I agreed, they were indeed. When I was a Junior in High School I was required to give a short speech in one of my classes. Afterwards my teacher was very complimentary about my speech, and said to me, “you should take every opportunity that opens up to you to speak in front of people, there are very few things as powerful as public speaking to develop your confidence, your ability to think on your feet, and your ability to communicate clearly to others.” That advice stuck in my head and over the years I did what she recommended. As we had our 8 kids we made that advice one of our parenting principles, we made them get up in front of people in school, church and other groups, gatherings, and events, and speak at every opportunity that opened up to them. The fruit of that parenting principle was very obvious yesterday. As I teach my Men’s Leadership Class and my Woman’s Leadership Class I share that principle with them often, but still a number of them refuse to get up in front of people and share, the fear factor is to strong. So, in conclusion, to you who are reading this, take advantage of every opportunity to speak in public, pursue growth, and public speaking is a major growth factor.