Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Applying Lessons Previously Learned

More than a year has passed since my last blog post. The passing of time is quicker than ever before. In conjunction with this is a growing workload in ministry and greater demands on my personal time. A "day off" has become nearly as elusive as a double rainbow (all the way!). In the midst of this I'm experiencing what some might refer to as deja vĂș... a sense that the situation that one currently finds themselves in is one that they had gone through before.

The circumstances surrounding me are strikingly familiar. So are the relationships.  The decisions that I'm required to make are virtually identical to the ones that I've had to make before. The emotions that I'm experience are as well.

But this time, things are a bit different. I'm more mature... not only as a Christian, but as an adult. The experiences of a half century of living on this planet have given my insights and perspectives that many don't have.  My walk with the Lord is far closer than it has ever been. My prayer time is far more "others focused" than ever before. With increasing regularity, my first thoughts when dealing with issues are attempts to see them from the Lord's perspective... painfully aware that my finite and flawed mind is incapable of truly comprehending things fully that way.

It's interesting. In the past, I'd settle for simply "going" through a storm or trial to the end. That thinking contains within it the unspoken assumption that it would be possible to not get through it. But with wisdom comes insight... and I strive to "suffer well" and "grow" through a storm or trial. There is a wonderful peace and contentment that comes from looking back at the storm I've just experienced and conclude, "I was obedient and did what the Lord had for me to do."  That really is a blessing... no regrets, no second-guessing ("if only I had done this", or "said that").

Having not properly handled certain situations in the past, I learned from my mistakes and where I fell short. I now get to go through a near-identical situation with the greater maturity and knowledge than the last time. By God's grace, I'll navigate through it well. Perhaps the area that I've grown the most is in trusting the Lord and relying on His actively exercised sovereignty in all things.

So what's God's purpose for these "second time around" scenarios? Perhaps to put lessons previously learned into practice. Maybe it is to show us (He is omniscient, He already knows) that we actually learned the lessons.

But there is no "perhaps" or "maybe" about this... the Lord is faithful to complete the work that He started, and if we don't learn a lesson and apply it properly, He will make sure that we get a second, third, fourth, or more chance to get it.  I'm somewhat of an oddball and I prefer to learn a lesson the first time.

"And 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