The best question, one cup at a time


    By Jeff Smith
    Special to The PREVIEW

    Used bookstores are so much fun. I’m taking Paula’s two daughter’s out for a few hours in the morning on a Saturday and each of us is finding some treasure at a bargain.

    This is a triumph of good shopping skills. Afterwards, we discuss our breakthroughs over carrot cake, cinnamon rolls and good tea.

    Then, we drive to the beauty shop where Paula works. I report in; all is well, we show mom what they got and I drop her girls off at the house. There are a number of us at church that watch out for them as they struggle along.

    On the way home I talk to Jesus. “Tell their Dad I said ‘hi,’” I say. “Tell him, I checked on his girls and on the surface, they seem OK.” I think he would have done the same for me. We were good friends, he and I.

    Those who think divorce is no big deal don’t know what they are talking about. Scripture describes marriage as the process of becoming “one.” Tearing the “one” back into two is like the murder of the combined person.

    It amazes me how a man and woman marry and they then become more distinct. He is more manly, she more feminine. After the divorce, she now has to be a mom and a sort of a dad, to two young teens. Man, is that hard work. The fact that so many marriages end this way tends to make the pain seem normal and okay. By God it’s not.

    I’m still starting my mornings going through Solomon’s Book of Proverbs, coffee in hand. I’m now on Chapter 5 and it’s all about warning a man not to have an affair. Chapter 3 lists the rewards of being wise. Chapter 4 is the work required.

    So, what is this one?

    This man has been told to pursue the woman called wisdom and he is to “love” her (4:6). In chapter 5, he is warned about a secret, selfish, foolish love that is like having an affair. It can lead a person to do evil and then face public shame and rebuke by the community (5:14).

    Trying to become wise sure takes some strange twists and turns in this book. The “man” is a metaphor for all of us. The “woman” refers to a way of thinking. I get that. As I think about this, I find I love certain ideas even if I don’t agree with them, or even don’t think they make sense. They just appeal to me.

    Some of them lately are wise, but some ideas remain that I just happen to like whether they are good for me or not. It is that type of idea Solomon is talking about. In so doing he is asking the most profound of all questions. “What secret beliefs, thoughts, or ideals do I love that allow me to do evil?”

    If I don’t want to end up like the fool in this chapter, I had better ask that question.

    I might also spare some other people from having to clean up the mess I’ve left behind.

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