When God Takes Us Back to School

There’s an air of anticipation wrapped around a new school year. Elementary kids grin with excitement over new scissors, glue, markers, and folders stuffed inside new backpacks. Middle schoolers spend time searching out the latest logos on shirts and shoes. High school students look forward to being back with their friends and finding out who broke up with who over the summer. Even teachers and administrators begin the new school year with renewed hope for The Best Year Ever. For the first few weeks, everyone is on their best behavior.

Then … the new wears off. 

As the pressure of meeting high standards mounts, so does drama, fatigue, and frustration. One way teachers try to lessen their students’ frustration is by pinpointing gaps in their learning. For instance, if a child did not learn the multiplication tables in the third grade, it’s very hard to teach them long division in the fifth grade. So, there is a time of reteaching before you can move forward. Most students don’t enjoy, as my granddaddy used to say, “licking their calf over again”. They don’t want to go back and try to learn something that takes more time and effort than they want to give. If they have to learn, they would much rather skip on over to something that costs them less.

Isn’t that the way our spiritual walk can be sometimes? We have gaps in our walk that we’d rather not acknowledge. 

Scripture offers up several lists of Christian attributes we should add to our faith, but Peter’s recently caught my attention again. He says we are to systematically supplement our faith in increasing measures with generous helpings of moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, patient endurance, godliness, brotherly affection, and love for everyone.(2 Peter 1:5-7) This shows that we are not miraculously handed all of these virtues the minute we put our faith in Jesus. I don’t know about you, but there’s freedom in that for me! I don’t have to have it all together. I just need to step into that process and be willing to accept some fine-tuning by the Spirit. David’s prayer at the end of Psalm 139 prevents me from having gaps in my walk. 

I’ve read that Psalm in many different versions, but today Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase in The Message speaks to me: “Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about; See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong – then guide me on the road to eternal life.” (Psalm 139:23-23)

Simply praying those words can move us to repent of the unholy things we quickly recognize. However, I’ve been known to skip over the harder, deeper things in hopes God didn’t notice. He did. 

When I don’t pay attention or try to ignore the Spirit nudging me to make a change, His elbow gets increasingly sharper. God loves you and me too much to leave us like we are, so He takes us back to school. He will go to great lengths to reteach us – even if it temporarily brings us pain and costs us more than we want to give. He wants us to become more like Jesus for our own sakes. He knows how much better our lives will be when we trade our fear for faith, our pride for humility, our doubt for trust, and our hate for love. God is on our side, and He makes the very best teacher.

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go;
I will counsel you with My eye upon you.”

(Psalm 32:8)

“I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will
bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

(Philippians 1:6)

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