When I was in early grade school, Mom and Dad decided to enroll the family in the Institute in Basic Life Principles, an organization dedicated to strengthening families and spreading the gospel. One of the requirements of being an IBLP family was to have a daily family devotional time, called Wisdom Search.
Now that I think back on it, the name strikes me as very cheesy, but at the time, it was simply a normative part of life. We would generally read a chapter of Scripture, often Proverbs, and then a chapter from the Character Sketches books or Dad’s latest favorite treatise on Wesleyan holiness. At the end of our devotional time, we would all kneel down at Mom’s big white couch in the living room and pray.
The problem with Wisdom Search was that it had to take place before Dad left for work, and he left for work around 7:00 AM! On top of this, Mom and Dad were very committed to keeping us all healthy and wanted to start the day off by going to the downtown YMCA as often as possible. Many weekday mornings, our parents would rouse us before 5:00 a.m., crowd us into our seven-passenger van, and force us to work bleary-eyed through a workout at the Y. Then it was back home to get dressed and meet for Wisdom Search in ten minutes.
By the time we sat down to search for wisdom together, Shannon was usually mad as hops, and Ben was perfecting his ability to sleep without looking like he was asleep. That left me, the pleaser, to try to jump in and answer all Dad’s many, many questions throughout Wisdom Search until I became resentful of my siblings’ cop-outs. Then we would all get quiet. Fortunately, that was about the time to finish off with prayer anyway. We all secretly hoped for Dad to volunteer to do all the praying at the end.
After we grew up and our schedules changed, we began to refer to that white couch as the family altar. Several confessions, encouraging words, and heartfelt petitions emerged while we knelt there. Even though we now say “Wisdom Search” with a bit of a tone, we are grateful to have the memory of it (unless you ask Aaron, who joined us for many of them but, to my knowledge, does not consider that to be a happy memory!)
I do not know whether IBLP still requires family Wisdom Searches or not, and I do not know whether my family will participate in them some day, but I did want to jot this part of my family development. At least we know that if any of us kids do institute Wisdom Searches for our families in the future, Mom and Dad still have the Character Sketches for us to use.