December 20, 2016
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:12-13
I love reading. Reading broadly is not only enjoyable, but it gives me illustrations to use in messages and our congregation knows that I need fresh illustrations. I enjoy conferences. I am not a conference junkie, but the few I have attended normally send me away refreshed and energized. However, I have to say that most of my life "learnage" has not come from books, conferences, seminars or retreats. Like Paul, I have learned from experience.
I never knew the farrago of emotions of not having a job until a time in my life when there was not a job in sight. I never knew what grief was like until my father died when I was nineteen. And I was surprised by the deep emotion of losing my mom some twenty years later. I never really understood God's peace that passes understanding until I was in desperate need of His peace. I had head knowledge about reckless words piercing like a sword until a person struck me with a premeditated comment that sent me reeling.
The apostle Paul's life was not some ivory tower professorial existence spewing forth classroom theories and then retreating back to his office surrounded by books. He lived in the real world learning from real life experience. And there he learned that God will provide the strength to do everything He calls us to do. Using real life in the real world, God will teach us the same lessons as well.
Lord, keep my feet grounded in reality. Make me a learner through life experience. Help me to ask this question often--Lord, what are You trying to teach me through this situation? In Jesus' name. Amen.