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R&V In the Word: Lady Wisdom and Gut Instinct

Image: Luke Ellis-Craven

Read Proverbs 8 MSG

“I am Lady Wisdom, and I live next to Sanity;

    Knowledge and Discretion live just down the street.

The Fear-of-God means hating Evil,

    whose ways I hate with a passion—

    pride and arrogance and crooked talk.

Good counsel and common sense are my characteristics;

    I am both Insight and the Virtue to live it out.”

Proverbs 8:12-14 MSG

Several months ago in the midst of occupational uncertainty, my husband applied for a job. 

My husband applied for lots of jobs, actually, during the last year, jobs in all kinds of industries and all across the United States. He was enrolled in his final year of seminary training toward a master’s degree in applied Bible and theology, and together, we had no idea what the future held for us.

I told my friends and family that I was trying to hold our future with open hands. I even frequently demonstrated what I meant, turning my clenched fists heavenward and splaying my fingers open, palms up, physically demonstrating my surrender to whatever came next.

But I like to know what is going to come next. I’m a planner. I prefer to have the next six months of my calendar fairly well organized so I can anticipate and get excited about what is on the horizon. This season of our lives called for a lot of letting go—letting go of our own expectations, letting go of our attachments to places and things, and maybe even letting go of our attachments to people.

Midway through this job search, my husband applied for a job, and my whole body rebelled. I didn’t know why at first, but I felt in my gut that this job—even though it might mean staying rooted in our community, even though on paper it looked like a good fit, even though the degree and the job description seemed in alignment—this job was absolutely not the right choice.

Scientists call our gut the body’s “second brain.” My second brain knew something was amiss that my main brain hadn’t yet logically processed. It took a few days of prayer and reflection, but eventually, my main brain finally had the words to articulate what my second brain had sensed the second my husband submitted that application.

Ultimately, it became clear to my husband as well that this particular opportunity was not where the Lord was leading us.

I think perhaps some of Intuition and Discernment—the close colleagues of Wisdom in the passages above—might reside in the gut. “Listen to your gut,” we say, because sometimes the rational processing of our brains gets in the way. 

When you don’t know what to do or how to respond in a particular situation, Lady Wisdom is there waiting. She is your conscience, your gut instinct, that still, small voice leading you into paths of righteousness, saying, “This is the Way. Walk in it.”

Maybe the gut is the homestead of the Holy Spirit.

Gut instinct, intuition, the Holy Spirit, or “Spidey-Sense”—whatever you call it—is a great gift from God given uniquely to people (as far as we know, anyway). Have faith in Lady Wisdom to guide you through seasons of uncertainty and confusion. That second brain has a lot to say.

Points of Reflection

  1. Do you tend to be someone whose first response comes from logic (the brain), emotion (the heart), or intuition (the gut)?
  2. When have you sensed in your gut that something was wrong or off? How did that gut reaction save you or change the direction you took?

For the Kids

  1. What are the characteristics and “companions” of Lady Wisdom that are identified in today’s verses?
  2. How can Lady Wisdom help you navigate your life?


This time of year can be hectic—if you have small children, they’re going back to school and starting up fall sports; if you are an empty nester, you’re perhaps gearing up for a busy holiday season of out-of-town guests and meal planning. In the midst of the busy-ness and the temptation to be even busier, don’t lose sight of the importance of both quiet and rest. If you don’t make time to slow down your body, heart, and mind, your body, heart, and mind won’t have time to process and communicate to you important messages for your own wellbeing and the wellbeing of those around you. The next couple of weeks, carve out a couple of evenings to take a walk without your phone, or designate an hour in the morning to sit on your porch with a cup of something hot and reflect on what’s happening in your life, what’s going on with the people around you, and what Lady Wisdom—your gut—has to say.


Amy Peterson’s book, Where Goodness Still Grows: Reclaiming Virtue in an Age of Hypocrisy is a beautiful exploration of various virtues in Scripture that can lead us into the places where goodness still grows and help us re-engage with Lady Wisdom and the power and love of the Holy Spirit.

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