by Allan Knapp
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:
To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight,
to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity;
to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth—
Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance,
to understand a proverb and a saying, the words of the wise and their riddles.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
URC session (elder) meetings always open with prayer. Many times, the prayer includes a request for wisdom. The promise in James 1 is for that prayer to be answered, but how do we know that wisdom was given? It would be great if there was a Moses or another prophet among us who would hear directly from God. But it seems the Holy Spirit works more subtly these days. This is a story of three session meetings where two issues were discussed and wisdom came along in a similar manner for both. It doesn’t always happen this way, but it is instructive to reflect on the parallels.
The first meeting addressed the issue of whether to accept a Small Business Administration (SBA) grant to cover COVID-related expenses and losses. The second meeting reached a decision on the SBA grant and then began a discussion all about when and how to reopen church activities, especially in-person worship services. The third meeting continued the deliberation about reopening worship services.
Prior to the initial discussion for both issues, a small group was tasked with gathering information and making a plan. Staff members learned all the SBA regulations and obligations for the grant, and a subcommittee of the session prepared a set of recommendations for reopening. Many of you know there is wisdom in having a smaller group (3-7) prepare a draft for a larger group to consider.
The three full-session discussions were all done via Zoom, which is much better than a conference phone call but not as good as meeting in person for discussions like these. But God used Zoom and time to bring wisdom to bear.
The initial session conversation for each issue had a presentation to gain understanding, an informal review of scriptural mandates and guidance on how to proceed, and a tally of pros and cons for the options available. There wasn’t a step-by-step procedure, but the wide-ranging discussion eventually covered all these bases. Each time, the initial dialogue ended with prayer, then a decision about a small next step. The prayer was specifically asking for wisdom because the path forward was not clear. The next small step left lots of room for change in the future.
The second discussion for each issue was shorter and clearer. Several days had passed, some individuals had written their thoughts, documents were suggested for review, and everyone had prayed. Most of all, God had fulfilled His promise. For the first issue it was unanimous we should not accept the grant. For the reopening, a modified version of the subcommittee’s proposal was accepted; the only point of contention was the exact date to begin in-person services.
We don’t know the future; we don’t know how these decisions will work out. But we do know that clarity came where things were not clear, and like in Acts 15:22, “it seemed good to the elders” to proceed together along the chosen path. Thank you, LORD, for keeping your promise!