Teaching to Learn and Learning to Teach


An Oldie but a Goodie
July 31, 2010, 6:12 am
Filed under: Lessons Learned, My life

I was cleaning out my draft box and found the following post. It was good to read it and be reminded of truths I have neglected; it was also good to see how somethings have change; it was interesting to see how my second summer in the job had similar struggles and completely different struggles. Having a record of the past can be so helpful. This is from late June of 2009.

Joys, Challenges, and Opportunities for Cultivating Your Love for Christ

Recently my boss posted a discussion question for a group on facebook. It read,

“We talk a lot about ‘Loving God and Loving People’ (Matthew 22:34-40) and each semester is filled with the joy, challenges and opportunities to cultivate a love for people. This summer, what are your joys, challenges and opportunities in cultivating your love for Christ?”

I didn’t post an answer there, but it really made me think, so I thought I would post the question and my response here.

Right away when contemplating the answer to this question, I realize that it is far easier for me to think about how to cultivate a love for people rather than Christ. Part of this may be my sinful fear of man and my desire to please people, but I think it is harder for a lot of people in our circles. People’s answers to the question on the facebook discussion seemed to be focused more on how they were developing their love for people this summer than for Christ. That’s a shame, because at the end of the day we love people for any other reason than out of our love for Christ, it’s nothing more than idolatry. Not only that but we diminish the gospel truth that Christ came to restore relationship between God and man. Yes, the gospel affects how we live with others, but it’s first and foremost about a relationship with Christ.

OK. Back to the question. One challenge and at the same time an opportunity is the way God sanctifies me in my relationships with others and in the everyday activities of my life. In my flesh I want to run away from the very support structure God has given me when I see my sin. When it becomes evident to me, I want to get away from everything and fix all. I want to escape people and everyday life, learn to love Him rightly, and then come back to reality, but that’s not the way it works. I need to learn to love Christ more and be faithful where I am. That’s where Christ teaches me, sanctifies me, and that is where my faith and His abundant grace and faithfulness are clearly displayed. Responding rightly to this, learning more of communion with Christ, and seeing Him work in my life and relationships is the great opportunity I have as a a part of the body of Christ.

Another challenge is my tendency to want selfish rest over the summer. I waste a lot of time because I’m tired and I want to do what I want to do to rest. My rest is not always purposeful or God-centered. Rest is a good thing, but even rest is to be done to the glory of God and not selfishly. This is also a challenge when I’m tired at the end of the day and I don’t want to read Scripture with a mind and heart that is weary and half-engaged. I still need to do it, though, and trust in the power of God’s Word and in His faithfulness. I do not deserve rest. I don’t need to watch a movie to kick back at the end of the day. A movie isn’t a bad thing, but my motives, thinking, and choice to watch it can be.

Another challenge for cultivating my love for Christ this summer is making grand plans I cannot keep and then giving up when I can’t meet them. My goal for June was to read through the entire Bible while taking notes on the implications of God as Creator for counseling and application to my life and thinking. I’m not going to complete that goal and it makes it a daunting task to even approach the Word.

I haven’t enjoyed summer. During the school year my job seems to be enthused with meaning and purpose; during the summer I’m busy but it seems like mundane office work. I get lonely and forget why I do what I do. This has revealed to me my wrong thinking on who I work for. If I truly went to work every day believing that I worked unto and for God, when the office emptied out for vacations or when the students went home for summer break, I would still know my purpose. It has also shown me my pride. I want to be a part of something great. Guess what? I am, but it isn’t about making myself look great but about Him. These summertime blues have been an opportunity to reflect on God’s goodness and sovereignty, to properly view my small place in His great story, and to contemplate what God desires from me.

Summer is filled with opportunities for pursuing and loving Christ. One unusual thing I have been doing to cultivate my love for Christ is reading fiction written by believers centuries ago. Usually they are Lamplighter books. Click here to see what they publish. I do believe my favorites have been Titus, A Comrade of the Cross along with it’s accompanying novel and Ishmael and its sequel. Here’s why this has been helpful to me in loving Christ: first, they are infused with Biblical thinking (I thought when I heard about fear of man a few years ago that it was something the church had just stumbled across. Fear of man isn’t new. It is dealt with in Scripture and believers in centuries past knew of it and knew how to battle it. It’s amazing to see how they deal with spiritual truths in story form.) Secondly, they put God’s character on display. Polishing God’s Monuments, another book I am currently reading is the true story of a lady suffering with MCS. In the book, the author, her father, talks about using the stories of God’s faithfulness from the past, be it Biblical stories or stories from your life, to reinforce God’s character in your life and to strengthen your faith when things get difficult.  Stories have an amazing power. Stories of God’s faithfulness, justice, etc., even when fictional, strengthen our faith in God and cause our hearts to rejoice in Him and respond in love and praise. Thirdly, I do believe this is a good kind of rest.

Another joy this summer has been slowing down enough to see God at work transforming lives with the gospel. When I went home to see my Jr. Highers graduate last month, I was really able to see that God is at work in young people. God is not limited by age nor is He constrained to work in the same way or decade he usually does. I think I forgot that last year (THAT IS REALLY IMPORTANT to know and remember as you work with youth. There are stories in Scripture that could greatly reinforce this concept too :). Many of them are our favorite Sunday School stories.) It has also been great to talk with friends about how the gospel affects every day life.

As summer has brought a slower pace in my life, it has also brought the unique joy and opportunity to learn from other people’s walks with God as I have had more time to spend with others. One helpful lesson I learned from a friend is that faithfulness looks different daily.

Thinking about my possible thesis (which is years down the road) has brought great joy. I hope to write on creation. Thinking about God as creator and being outside more because it is warm has allowed me to enjoy nature and think about God’s amazing, creative power. I’ve also enjoyed being more prayerful. I think that comes with a slower climate and waking up slowly and prayerfully in the morning.

Some things I wish I could say have been joys this summer or opportunities, and which I hope to take more advantage of during the rest of this summer, are Scripture memory and extended prayer times.

Wow, that was a lot to say!

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