Sustenance for The Spirit
I distinctly remember that feeling of relief after turning in my final research paper. It was pure euphoria. Then a very short time later, I found myself facing my college advisor, listening to words I did not want to hear. He explained that from what he was looking at (grades and such) I should minor in English. Seriously? I would have said it out loud in that moment had my mother and father not taught me so well to keep such comments to myself. I reluctantly agreed and said hello to more research papers. It’s funny that such a story comes to mind when approaching the topic of being a student, which has been on my mind lately in relation to all the graduating going on. There is a wonderfully euphoric sense when a milestone is achieved, even if all the tension and stress associated with study, tests and general academia is only temporary. Those who have been through such experiences know that the “high” is nebulous and merely whets our appetite for future milestones, whether they are educational or personally fulfilling. This is a part of the growth experienced in a life filled with challenges. Highs and lows come with the territory.
I want to emphasize that, as important as the accomplishments are, getting there is paramount. In my opinion, we must continue as students, regardless of the credits earned or the diplomas framed on our walls. In fact, any teacher was first a student, and if that teacher is great, he or she continues to be a student. I would even say that any teacher improves as he or she learns about and from their students. I think common sense tells us this, even if it’s not always modeled, whether we’re referring to a classroom, a business or a family. As we continue to learn we contribute valued and valuable information which is built upon. Teaching is about much more than standing in front of a classroom of humans expounding knowledge to their “eager” ears.
Think of Moses and the transformation that occurs between the burning bush and leading a nation out of slavery. In Exodus 4:13, Moses says, “O Lord, please send someone else to do it.” (NIV) And by the time Moses has approached Pharoah, raised his staff to part the Red Sea, spent forty days and nights on Mt. Sinai and dealing with gripey Israelites, he teaches lessons in Deuteronomy that we read today with deep regard and recognition of Godly wisdom. In Deuteronomy 4:39 Moses closes a lesson to the Israelite audience with, “Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other.” (NIV) Another verse where Moses teaches is, “And now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe that Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?” (Deuteronomy 10: 12–13, NIV)
Moses was a student first, learning from God, Aaron, tribal leaders and maybe even a few things from Pharoah, to bring him to a place where he could teach, knowing the people would listen, learn and grow. As their story progresses, they learn and grow together, through lots of ups and downs, not always remembering Moses’ wise words and counsel. Isn’t that how education works? We remember, until we don’t. We pay a price for our ignorance, which causes us to become a student all over again, re-learning what we need to know.
Think of the apostle Peter, the rough, out-spoken fisherman, who daily learned at the foot of Jesus, and then taught thousands on the day of Pentecost in the most Spirit-powered speech of all time. (Acts 2) Peter’s vessel was molded and shaped through moments of consternation, confusion, despair and amazement as he traveled with Jesus and the other apostles, until he was perfectly prepared to carry out God’s will by preaching His gospel message after the miraculous resurrection of Jesus. Peter was a student first, and then continued to allow himself to change as the world changed. Later in life, Peter wrote in I Peter 1:18, “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ a lamb without blemish or defect.” (NIV) Peter knew firsthand who Jesus was and how God had worked His plan, and he taught it every chance he got. He continued as a student of the difficulties of the early Church as he writes in 1 Peter 2:10, “Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (NIV) First Peter is full of admonishment and hope. Peter teaches the early Christians of Asia Minor that their world is different, it has changed for the better, and they can be students each day to a greater calling.
We celebrate our pinnacle moments in life, and it is certainly justified, but it doesn’t change our student status. Not really. We must be ready to teach when the opportunity presents itself, but often, even in those moments we are learning. We become the student all over again. It’s just another one of God’s patterns on earth. It helps us when the world changes, when the unexpected arises and when we need a dose of humility. Being a perpetual student makes life less painful and is a sure blessing for our human existence on earth. Questions come up, some without immediate answers, and tests are taken, most often not with pencil and paper. We study and live and teach, and then study some more. God uses His Spirit to teach us through all that life throws our way and in the process we earn diplomas not comprised of credits earned, but of faith built on prayer, scripture, fellowship and an abiding love of God’s presence. He is the Master Teacher.
Have a wonderful day!