One important lesson I have learned is that we never really arrive in learning.
Whenever we go on a journey of over, say, 15 minutes we invariably hear the question “Are we there yet?” come from one of the back seats in our Excursion. Sometimes our son Daniel will ask “How many more minutes until we get there?” The destination doesn’t matter—he just wants to know when we will arrive. My wonderfully gracious wife will sometimes answer “we have [x] minutes to go” and she’ll ad 10 to 15 minutes to our estimated time. My answer? “We’ll be there when we get there!”
Life is sort of like a ride in your Excursion (or whatever vehicle you drive). We are on a journey to our destination.
In a previous post I wrote about progressive sanctification. I wrote about how we won’t arrive at our destination—perfection—on this earth in this age. I’d like to expand that a bit more. I’d like to talk about arriving in the sense of knowledge and wisdom. An important question we all need to ask and answer is “Am I teachable?” How we answer that question tells a lot about how we see ourselves: do I know it all or do I know enough to know I don’t know enough?
One important lesson I’ve learned is that when we never really arrive in learning. We should always be learning because there is so much to learn (I am speaking specifically about the Bible here). Those who think they have arrived are in trouble. I’ve met some of these folks—they don’t need any input. They know everything about the Bible and they are THE authority for all things spiritual. To disagree with them is not to simply disagree, it is to be unbiblical.
But I know this isn’t true. There will always be something to learn. There will always be a better way of doing things. This process of finding new ways of doing ministry—of teaching, preaching, and reaching—is a never-ending journey of learning. No I am not there yet. I’m not even close. But I am still moving towards my destination.
I am a student of God’s word, not the master of it
I love to teach the Word of God. I love to use every method I can find to communicate the timeless truths that we find in Scripture. I want everyone to know what I know—no, I want everyone to know MORE than I know. But more than teaching God’s word, I want to learn God’s word. Although I have a Master’s degree (MDiv.) I never want to think I have mastered God’s word. I am a student of God’s word, not the master of it. After all, God is still God and I’m still not.
The words of the Psalmist seem appropriate:
“Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end. Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart. Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it. Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!” Psalm 119:33-36 (NIV)
The Psalmist introduces four themes in this short section of Scripture. He begins with “Teach me, O Lord!” continues with “Give me” then “Lead me”, and finally “Incline my heart.” Lets look at these one of these requests today and the response we should have.
“Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes;”
O how we need this attitude today. There is no one who needs this attitude than me. I need to be instructed by God. I would love to ascend to a mountain and sit by a burning bush and have God impart to me directly. But for our time He has chosen to work through others. So what am I to do? I am to sit at the feet of my Pastor and learn. I am to seek out others who know more and have experienced more than me. I am to receive their knowledge and wisdom. Then I am to pass that knowledge on to others (2 Timothy 2:2).
My time of learning did not end when I graduated from Capital Bible Seminary. The years I spent sitting at the feet of my professors was time well-spent. But that was just the beginning of my education. I’ve learned from those who have walked with the Lord many more years than me. I’ve also learned from those who have walked with the Lord many fewer years than me. I’ve learned from men gifted very differently than myself. I hope I continue my education.
Currently I learn at the feet of my Pastor, Carl Strine and my elders Rich, John, Paul and Charlie (though Charlie is no longer an elder at my church I have learned a lot from him and will always think of him as my elder).
I am also learning from the students in the class I teach on Sunday evenings. Listening to their questions, insights, and observations as we discover how God wonderfully preserved His word for us has shone a bright light in my path. I am thankful for those who have added to my education. I learn from my wife and children. I listen intently to my wife and take to heart what she says. Her wisdom in dealing with the stressors of life is not lost on me. My children, young as they may be, teach me every day about faith, unconditional love, trust, and just enjoying the life God has given us.
I learn from my friends—Jeremy Smith—whom I look at as Paul looked at Timothy. I learn from his wife Lake. I learn from Tom and Lora, Doug and Chastity. I learn from Tim and Beth, Larry and Debbie, Tim and Sherri, Chris and Dana, Keith and Kathy. All these and many more have invested their wisdom and knowledge in me whether they are aware of their investment or not. You see I’m watching you and learning from you even when you don’t think I am doing either. Thank you for your investment in me.
“…and I will keep it to the end”
All this learning is not without purpose. That purpose is not for me to gain standing or respect of others. All this learning is not to make me look smart, good, wise, or anything else. I learn the Lord’s statutes so that I will obey them. I want an obedient heart. One that yearns to be useful for God, not for myself. We should all want an obedient heart. Obedience, though, seems to be the root problem for us humans. Our desire to disobey can be traced back all the way to the Garden of Eden.
To obey means I must yield my heart to His. I must yield my will to His. I must yield my desires to His. My dreams for me and my family must give way to Him and His plans for us. I so want to obey unconditionally. I want to obey quickly, unreservedly, wholly, and enthusiastically. When I’m gone from this earth, I want people to say one thing about me: He obeyed God.