Small Beauties – Lydia Simmons

Wisdom 7:7-14 & John 8:25-32

“All good things came to me along with her,
And in her hands uncounted wealth.
I rejoiced in them all, because wisdom leads them;
But I did not know that she was their mother.”

We all have an intuitive relationship with goodness, beauty, and truth. We come across things in the world that seem to reach out and grab us by the heart – perhaps a piece of art or music, a holy place, a human relationship, a piece of philosophy or Scripture that brings joy and light into our life. These things are good because they are from God, and we rejoice in them even before we know that God is their mother. We rejoice in them because they are like signposts, pointing the way back to Wisdom and helping us to desire and understand her.

But the things that lead us to God are not, themselves, God. All the truth and beauty we know in this life will inevitably disappoint us from time to time. We find that something beautiful no longer moves us, or that something true no longer convinces or reassures us, and we are left in the dark without any signposts to remind us that eternal Wisdom is out there.

This can be an awful experience, naturally, because we felt as though we had hold of something beautiful and important – the most beautiful and important thing in the world – and now it has been taken away and we do not know where to find it. Sometimes we begin to doubt whether it was ever there at all. Maybe we still believe the Gospel message through sheer faith and stubbornness, but in this dark place it can feel like we will never know or understand God again.

But God knows us, especially in the dark places, and God does not leave us alone. God sent Wisdom herself into the world in the form of a man, not to bring us perfect understanding but to bring a promise. In John’s gospel today, even the people in the same room do not understand what Jesus is saying. Wisdom herself is sitting across from them and opening the mysteries of the universe, and they do not understand – they are confused and lost and defensive and at the end of the chapter they chase Jesus out of the temple with rocks. It can be that frightening not to understand.

Wisdom sees all this and still promises, “If you continue in my word, you are my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” We will know the truth. In the end, we will know perfect Wisdom.

So, all the beautiful and true things in this world, which God made for our rejoicing, will eventually fail us. All the glory of this world will pass away. This is not a threat but a promise. Jesus calls us to to live in the blessed hope that all the truth and beauty of this life will be overshadowed and made small by the infinite Wisdom of God whom we will someday see face to face. We will know fully, even as we are fully known, and we will be free.

This truth can make us free here and now, even when our small beauties and truths are taken away before we are ready. To Wisdom, “All gold is but a little sand in her sight, / And silver will be accounted as clay before her.” Wisdom calls us not to make idols of the things that are only signposts to God, to know that the things we love the most in this world are only dust beside her. Our task is to love goodness, beauty, and truth in the world – and then when we have found Wisdom, to serve and love her best of all.

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