At the weekend I managed to syphon 4 gallons of petrol from one car to another. This was not a desperate and criminal reaction to the fuel crisis, worse than rushing to fill up for the impending apocalypse. It was part of the mourning rituals of saying goodbye to a now-finally-too-much-to-repair Mini.
The procedure (note the use of professional, 14 years training, surgical language here) seemed easy. Find a piece of hose in my dad’s yet to be cleared out garage (tick). Suck the petrol out without swallowing it (fail). The car can’t be illegally syphoned this way, but I was surprised at the pungent power of the fumes that filled my lungs. I couldn’t be bothered to try to take the fuel pump out so the next trick I found was to disconnect the fuel pipe to the engine block, switch the ignition on and off many times (about 200 in this case) and let the fuel squirt into a petrol can. Obviously there was much spillage, densely wrapped towels, more pipe, annoying the neighbours etc but the transfer was eventually complete (note the use of financial language here) and a Ford Mondeo now heady and drunk on gas.
I’ve been reading a bit about wisdom in the bible recently. It doesn’t appear to be knowledge gathered over years of erudite study. It is more about skilled living – how to navigate the issues of life. But even though it is not about being academically brilliant, neither is it just a trial and error, suck it and see approach to life – which in my case saw only the taste of petrol. It comes from an attitude of respect and humility.
There is a phrase in Psalm 110 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom
”. This is not so much about being scared of punishment or power, but actively trusting and living in such a way that you recognise God’s ways for you, others and even the planet, are the best ways of living. This phrase is repeated or similarly expressed a number of times in the bible. It is used in the book of Proverbs and Job which are both books about living real life, rather than books simply about religious commitment or our spiritual existence. I am reminded that faith in God is about how we live now – our relationships, finance, fears; what we eat and wear, how we work, how we grieve; choices, needs, desires, resentments and hopes. It is about what to do when a car is broken but there’s still fuel in its tank.
Although the bible doesn’t have verses that talk about fuel pumps or gas providers or North Sea fishing rights, it does speak into the way we have to think about these things – whether that is political principles, how to negotiate or how to handle possessions. And when we deepen our relationship with God, his Spirit helps us to read and apply the bible really practically. We then become wise livers – those who find the Spirit’s leading in a particular context and then express it in our humanity. And others watch and see and then may even emulate us. In fact, the more we worship God – trusting in him and enjoying it – the more we gain insight into living and the more that those around us have their eyes opened to what it might be like to live wisely.
So, for wisdom on how to live life, look at the bible with an attentive and open heart. Trust that God is loving, good and enjoys sharing his thoughts on how we can live. Then be ready to watch and listen to others. Worshipping God leads to a much more fulfilled and radical lifestyle.
Martin J Young
P.S. And for wisdom on how to get fuel from a Mini go to youtube.com/watch?v=HtBoffieZeE