The Difference Between Wisdom and Fear

The other evening I finally got the opportunity to catch up with a dear friend who had been out of the country for three weeks. We talked for hours, like we typically do and caught up on everything that happened in the time we were apart.

We talked about how much we hate it when people ask “Where are you going from here?” or “What is next?” or, the question that I get a lot, “What do you want to do with your life now?”

One of the greatest discussions I have with myself is whether I should stay or whether I should go. I’m equally pulled by two things that are very, very dear to me: the people I love and the world I love. Should I travel the world and have incredible experiences or stay here with the people I cherish and have incredible experiences?

It was within the midst of questioning this, again (because I probably question this multiple times a day, especially if a vacation is in front of me or something semi-traumatic or difficult is happening), and going back and forth between several different decisions that I’m currently confronted with, that she said something very strange and very wise:

“It’s hard to delineate the difference between wisdom and fear.”

Read that again.

It’s hard to delineate the difference between wisdom and fear.

We both sat in shock for a moment and she continued on, trying to put what she said in a context, but then simply ran out of words and said, “I don’t know what I’m saying. That was not me.”

We paused, looking at each other, both of us shocked at what she had said, and both of us knowing exactly where those words came from. In that moment, we had heard God speak. 

Which is ironic, because ten minutes earlier we had been discussing how we determine God’s will and how we can hear Him or sense His direction one way, in one situation, and then in an entirely different situation, we will understand His will in a whole new context. But somehow He had made himself clear to us.

Wisdom and fear. Fear and wisdom. Those two words aren’t really besties. But somehow, in many instances, they can be kissing cousins when life shoots those burning arrows our way. Because those are two of the most common nouns used when talking about God’s will. We seek wisdom. We are afraid of what He might want us to do. We’re afraid we will do something wrong or go the wrong way. Is wisdom moving forward in faith or waiting until He makes the first move clear?

Because I think we are motivated both by wisdom and by fear. Fear of living a certain way, being a certain person, being perceived in certain lights. And acting within the constraints of those fear, we appear to be living “wisely”…is living within the bounds of fear, really living in wisdom? If fear is driving our “wise” decisions, are they really wise?

What are your thoughts? I, obviously, have yet to come to a conclusion on this idea. Comment below or email me. I’d love to hear more opinions.

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