I have discovered, actually, I have thought about this just very recently, that the Christian life could be explained as a class in which we have to learn lessons, complete tasks, finish assignments and take tests before we graduate.
As a teacher, I plan and present my lessons for every new subject. I give my students activities to practice this new subject in class. Then I give them homework and finally I give them a test which ideally solidifies the acquisition or mastery of such subject.
As it happens, students go through the process of learning differently. The gifted few breeze through everything and excel without much effort. They are focused and have great study habits. They take notes and when they are in class they ARE there. The majority, however…struggle. They are either not paying attention in class, not taking the subject seriously or become easily distracted or completely lack the ability to focus. Many students need more practice and repetition. They could also benefit from more homework and often they could improve if they were able to retake the test. The thing is that I don’t have time to slow down. I have a certain amount of material that I have to cover and unfortunately, some students just fall through the cracks at the end and not pass.
In the classroom of the Christian life I am that student who needs more time. I get easily distracted with the things of this world, which causes me to lose focus, which in turn makes me feel like I’m lost. Often I’m the absent minded student who walks into the wrong classroom and becomes paralyzed for a split second. You can see his/her eyes quickly scanning the entire room searching for something recognizable, until it hits him/her…and they shamefully turn around and leave as swiftly as possible. That’s me. I don’t know how many times I’ve walked in the wrong room just because I forget to look up and keep my eyes on what really matters.
Like most students in my classes, I am so slow to acquire new knowledge that I need as much practice and repetition as I can get every time I’m learning a new lesson. And worst of all…I usually fail the tests.
The good news is that Our Heavenly Teacher is not like our earthly teachers. He is not ruled by time constraints and one-size-fits-all curriculum. Time belongs to Him and He designs custom-made learning plans for each and every one of His children individually. From our human perspective it may seem as if we are failing. But from His Divine perspective He knows how much practice we need. He gives us the appropriate amount of homework to help gain more understanding. Occasionally He makes us write a research paper, and He has already scheduled all the re-testing we need in order to pass the current class and move onto the next one.
As I face yet another re-take of a test in my current class of learning to trust Him, I feel confident that I am getting better at this lesson. He has taught me, with each re-take, the importance of prayer, reading the Bible and calling out my brothers and sisters in Christ to lift me up in their prayers. I have learned the value of being still, and my eyes have been opened to the negative effects of my uncontrollable anxiety-induced, border-line-hysterical actions on those around me. God has taught me the need to call out the enemy aloud and the importance of claiming His victory as mine!
Now that I think about all these things, I’m also learning not to get frustrated with my students when they are not learning as fast as I’d like them to. Most people do not have the ability to learn new things fast and easily. I need to make sure I extend to them the grace I have been given…for none of us are worth such gift, not even one.
His master replied, Well done, good and faithful servant!
Matthew 25: 23