Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
As did many parents, I recently received a correspondence from my daughter’s school itemizing the supplies that she will need for the upcoming school year. After reviewing this multi-page missive and picking my jaw up from the floor, I began to think about how important it is for our children to be equipped with what they need to get a good start on the year. Without the necessary items, they enter the classroom at a distinct disadvantage. Children with access to the proper tools can focus on learning, rather than spending precious time scrambling and trying to find what they need. Of course, the weight on parents in providing such items can be tremendous; for many parents it’s a sacrifice to give their children what they need to compete.
Children however are not the only ones needing school supplies. As God’s children, we all must be equipped to receive the learning that life provides. Regardless of whether we are enrolled in an academic institution, we are always in the classroom, complete with assignments, quizzes, tests, and grades that will test our knowledge, wisdom, and self-discipline. Our experiences in life (relationship dynamics, health situations, financial challenges, etc.) are classes that are designed to teach us. Some of us are in “Something Out of Nothing 101,” trying to figure out how to make money for “one thing” stretch to last for “ten things.” Others of us are in “Family Drama 202,” trying to navigate relationships with difficult people. There is an entire syllabus of classes we find ourselves “enrolled in” that we need to find a way to pass. The question for us is whether we have acquired the proper tools with which to process those experiences, or if we are wasting precious time scrambling trying to merely survive through the exams of life without really learning the lessons that they teach. We need to be properly equipped in order to learn effectively.
To be successful in the classroom of life, we first need to know that God has made the ultimate sacrifice to equip us to compete. At the cross, Jesus provided the tools required to pass the tests of life. We also have been given the ultimate tutor, the Holy Spirit, who by indwelling and infilling us can teach us to apply the principles that God has laid out in God’s Word when we are tested on them. Finally, God has placed us in the fellowship of believers, a learning community in which we can put lessons into practice in a supportive environment. (At times, the fellowship serves as a “test laboratory” in which “pop quizzes” are given to test a person’s maturity at applying the principles before they are used elsewhere in a person’s life.) All of these – salvation, the infilling of The Holy Spirit, a knowledge of God’s Word, and a church family, are needed in order for a person thrive in life’s classroom, and not merely make it through to the end. God is patient enough to allow lessons to be re-taught that we fail to learn the first time, until such time we finally “get it.”
I continue to be concerned when God’s people go out into life’s classroom ill-equipped, either not having or not utilizing the tools for success that God has provided. When we don’t pick up these tools, we end up “copying off of the world’s exam paper,” using our own wits or our own strength, or compromising our ideals in order to manage what comes at us. God will not bless these efforts. God wants us to learn His lessons, not our own. God wants us to learn to see things His way, not the world’s way. God’s principles applied can help us to get an “A” in classes such as “Forgiving the Offender”, or “Traveling Stormy Waters.” God will help us, but we need to be equipped!
One thing that I notice about school supplies is that there is a big push to sell them from about the middle of the summer through mid-September, when things are offered at discounted prices. As soon as the push is over, things go back to their regular price. In life’s classroom, however, it is never too late to stock up. God has a never-ending supply, and it can be accessed even in the middle of a test. The Spirit of God will step in to help us figure things out, and even turn a definite “F” around at the end of the semester! God’s supplies can fix any seemingly impossible situation, and help us to learn lessons that we can use to encourage others. So get equipped, and be encouraged!
Keep Living and Learning!