From Proverbs 9
I love plane rides for one main reason: a chance to read, unguiltily, for long stretches of time. On last week’s plane ride back to the states, I finished a memoir by Frank McCourt titled Angela’s Ashes. Set in Ireland, where my brother and I spent the final days of our vacation, the book tells the story of the McCourt family in the first half of the twentieth century.
To sum it up in a sentence, Frank and his family faced the epitome of poverty. I’m talking to the point that, at least once, Frank’s only option for food was licking the grease off a newspaper that once held a wealthier man’s fish and chips. His memoir was eye-opening and heart-breaking—a devastating spiral into the kind of helplessness that leaves you wondering, Can it get worse?
Yes, yes it can.
But then—a glimmer of hope. An opportunity. That opportunity leads to another, better one. Eventually, Frank finds his way out, literally, taking a transatlantic voyage to New York, where he becomes a teacher and where, years later, he writes a memoir that becomes a bestseller and where, in the back of that memoir, you can find a headshot of him with a wide, joy-filled smile.
After following his childhood through the streets of Limerick, you wonder where it comes from. How can anyone who has been through so much make such an astonishing turnaround?
Frank doesn’t credit God in his memoir, but I do. I’ve seen it in my own life. I’ve seen it in others. I see it in the world around us: God is the Author of reversals. From poverty to stability, from helplessness to hope, from chains to freedom, from death to life, from addiction to recovery, from selfishness to extending a hand to others. God is ...
The Maker of change.
The Giver of hope.
The King of impossible turnarounds.
In a way, this is what the book of Proverbs is about. It’s about unlocking the secrets to turning your life around. It’s about calling you from the streets and teaching you a new way of life. It’s about improving everything—relationships, habits, lifestyle choices, career paths, daily decision-making, futures (physical and spiritual), and families. It’s about—no matter where you’ve been, how you’ve lived, where you’ve come from, or what’s in your past—putting you on a path toward better, toward good, toward everyone-benefits kind of change.
Proverbs 9:1-6 offers an invitation: “Wisdom has … set her table. She has sent out her young women to call from the highest places in the town, ‘Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!’ To him who lacks sense she says, ‘Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways, and live.’” (ESV)
Leave your simple ways. Step forward from your past. No matter how entrenched you’ve been, no matter how lost you feel, no matter how confused or weak or broken you might be, wisdom offers an impossible turnaround. An unbelievable escape. Embrace it—listen to and heed and soak up wisdom—and give praise to God the day you look back on your life and say, I’ve been raised from ashes.
Next week‘s reading: Proverbs 15–28.