Ancient Wisdom


“Please inquire of past generations, And consider the things searched out . . .” (Job 8:8 NASB).

A few years ago, I visited my son while he was attending college on the east coast. This part of the country provides many opportunities to visit historical places. Since I completed my trips to many of the national parks and museums in the area, I decided to take a walk around the neighborhood near my hotel.

The hotel, located downtown, was surrounded by both tall office buildings and small businesses. In a quaint corner away from the bustling downtown area, and one block away from the hotel stood an old cemetery. A chain link fence enclosed the cemetery. It was unlocked. I walked in.

Once inside the fence, I felt as if I was standing between the past and the present time.

I noticed many headstones were inscribed with recent dates, and many showed dates from previous generations. A few headstones in the cemetery were quite elaborate. Others humbly displayed initials engraved on a single stone. Some areas in the cemetery had four to eight closely aligned headstones which seemed to represent a family. I stood in amazement at the different ages and life spans represented in this ancient yet modern resting place.

Cemeteries, somehow, tell us to pause from our daily routines.

Cemeteries take us to a time rarely seen with our eyes but often seen through the stories passed down from ancestors.

Seek Wisdom Early

When I was young, I was lost in my way of thinking. I acted upon every new idea that came along. I followed the popular cultural beliefs afforded to me during that time.

I rarely acted upon the wisdom that came from my mother and grandmother. A series of failures and some successes in life forced me to heed the wisdom of my elders. Their words “Be home by eleven o’clock”, “One day you’ll thank me “ and, “Listen to your elders” are still etched in my memory. I’ve also passed these same words of wisdom down to my children.

 I am thankful for elderly wisdom.

Popular beliefs say children need to follow their own paths, but we must realize young people benefit from the wisdom of the elderly.  They need answers to life’s problems.

Young people can appreciate older adults who listen without judgment.  I can picture James Earl Jones peering through the glasses at the end of his nose while listening to a young person. When the youth finishes talking, it would almost be a violation for this fatherly figure not to speak. His listening posture shouts volumes, yet he speaks as one who is wise.

“Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end, you will be counted among the wise” (Proverbs 19:20 NIV).

Better With Time

On occasion, the elderly look to the past to consider how they could have applied wisdom better. They realize failure in life often leads to wisdom for the future.

“Age… is wisdom, if one has lived one’s life properly” (Miriam Makeba). 

Wisdom just doesn’t happen. It requires work. It requires us to take part in God’s activity in our lives. Wisdom comes through prayer, fellowship in the Christian community, loving others and by seeking God. An elderly seasoned person becomes wise with age because, over the years, she has chosen to live her life according to Godly wisdom. This is the proper way to gain wisdom.

The elderly have experienced life.

The elderly have learned to persevere through the good and the bad.

The elderly have accepted with patience the mixtures of grief and joy.

They have chosen wisdom’s ways.

The Only Wise God

I am no longer the youth asking questions of the elderly. I am now the older person imparting wisdom to the young.

I am now standing between the present generations and future generations.

My ancestor’s wisdom has shaped my life’s purpose, my values, and my choices. Their stories of hard work and righteous living I will pass down to the younger generations-my children, my grandchildren, and my great-grandchildren. 

But my wisdom is limited.

Only God’s wisdom stands through time.

Only one source of wisdom is higher than the wisdom of an ancestor. It is the wisdom that has always been. It is the wisdom that transcends beyond the grave. This wisdom was and is still spoken by the only wise One – the Ancient of Days.

“To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen” (Jude 25 KJV).

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