Lessons Learned in 65 years
Lessons Learned in 65 years
Time marches in one direction only. Though it is sometimes hard for me to believe it, I am now 65 years old. For much of my life, people who had reached this advanced age seemed to me quite old. But not any more. I regard myself as being much younger than I actually am. But though I can no longer physically do all that I could do when I was much younger, I regard the advantages of my current age as far greater than the costs of aging. Among these blessings are many treasured lessons I have learned, and the joy I have known of walking with God for so long now, and the priceless wisdom the Lord has blessed me to gain in the classroom of life.
EDUCATION IS PROGRESSIVE
Our education is progressive, isn’t it? What kindergarten student is expected to understand algebra or to explain the theory of relativity? But elementary school students are expected to know what they learned in earlier years, high school students are presumed to retain what they were taught in elementary school, and college students will need to know and apply the basics of High School language, history and math. Progressive learning happens throughout our life, including our life in Christ.
The book of Hebrews provides a clear biblical exhortation to ensure that our spiritual education is progressive and that we are growing in faith by holding on to what the Lord has already taught us. “Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Therefore, let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity…” (Hebrews 5:13-6:1)
HOLDING ON TO WHAT GOD HAS TAUGHT US
For several years the Lord stirred in me a desire to put into writing a compilation of lessons He has taught me through the years. This effort was brought to fruition in 2014 with the publication of “Walking With God: 101 Lessons for Life and Ministry”. In that book I included various lessons God taught me as a child, as an adolescent, as a young adult, in seasons of preparation, as a young shepherd, as a parent, in Christian leadership, in sacrificial service, while awaiting orders, in spiritual battle, in the fog of uncertainty, in greater responsibility, in unexpected change, and to final breath and beyond. Though I listed 101 lessons learned along the way while walking with God, I could have easily included more. Every one of the lessons He has taught me in life are priceless treasures to me, in some ways like accrued returns on investments from a life of loving and following Jesus.
But such treasures are not to be hoarded like a miser who greedily counts his money. Rather, they are to be continually reinvested in life and ministry, all for the glory of God. Toward this end God has been challenging me to keep remembering and living what He has taught me, to not forget or ignore important truths.
IF YOU DON’T USE IT YOU WILL LOSE IT
I took three years of French in High School, but that was a long time ago and I can remember very little of it now. The reason is obvious: I never used it. In college I took courses in Physics, Chemistry, and Calculus, but I can remember very little of what I learned, again because I have not used it. Most of us will retain little of what we no longer use. This explains why I cannot remember phone numbers and addresses of places I lived long ago. I knew them well then, but not anymore.
The Lord tells us how to ensure we never forget what He has taught us. We remember by doing, that is by applying biblical truths today. James 1:23-25 says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it – not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it – they will be blessed in what they do.”
James wrote this because our nature is to forget. We are prone to distraction and to retreat to our sinful ways. He calls us to remember what the Lord has taught us, and to keep living it, thus growing in holiness, becoming more and more like Christ. The longer we have personally walked with Christ, the more we should be becoming like Him. But this transformation only happens to the extent that we keep living what He has taught us, while eagerly inviting Him to teach and lead us in every way. I feel like, after 65 years, I am just getting started!