Learning to be a Life Learner
What comes to mind when you think of life change and the notion of a life learner? Is it someone who benefits from and “learns” a positive life lesson from every situation and circumstance they encounter? What about a person who embraces life experience and trials as teaching tools? And what conclusions do you draw from someone whose life-learning aspirations are lukewarm . . . or refuses to learn? What’s their lot in life?
Says Oswald Chambers in his devotional classic My Utmost for His Highest, “It is a dangerous thing to refuse to continue learning and knowing more. If you don’t cut the lines that tie you to the dock, God will use a storm to sever them and send you out to sea. Put everything in your life on the great swelling tide of His purpose, and your eyes [and mind] will be opened.”
The Bible has a lot to say about embracing life experience, life change, and life purpose. Ha! Take the apostle Paul for example. He was thrown to the ground and temporarily blinded by a divinely-targeted lightning bolt on the road to Damascus. Scripture tells us, Paul “got the message” about persecuting God’s people . . . and that he also had an unexpected encounter with the risen Jesus to boot. Very cool!
Later he wrote, “Do not be conformed to the patterns of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” (Romans 12:2). Sure, there are many complex elements to life change, but the mandate for life change isn’t one of them. Whether you are a Bible scholar, skeptic, or reading these verses for the first time, Romans 12:2 points you to life change and a new future.
I should also mention that I have a visceral reaction to the notion of victimhood. I’ve been through enough of life to know that wearing that robe is a choice—or, worse, a self-imposed proclamation. Run from it! Victimhood cannot embrace change. It’s a death knell to resilient life purpose, poisons the mind, scuttles initiative . . . and contributes to learned helplessness.
Conversely, says the apostle Paul, life change is initiated “by the renewing of your mind.” Our minds are the control centers for spiritual and intellectual learning . . . the rebooting of our life-experience software occurs there. Our minds constantly require new calibration and software updates, without which we become plastic, biased, and rigid.
Speaking of a reboot, here’s a highly personal experience from years past.
Walking into the clergyman’s office at my appointed time, I sensed the atmosphere was thick. Even the simplest courtesy was lacking . . . and the battle lines had already formed. Father Ulrich (not his real name) in his priestly collar, held the spiritual high ground; I was in the valley. Life for me had short-circuited. My marriage had failed, friendships had dissolved, I was living like a drifter in a ramshackle apartment, and I was facing an inopportune job transfer. In my rearview mirror of life, I pondered how things had gone so far off the rails.
Nonetheless, I pierced the awkward silence and pitched my question. “Father Ulrich, I’ve been attending this church in this wretched season of life, but I sense I’m unwelcome here. I find no peace in the sermon messages and I’m cast as a modern-day leper. Yes, I’ve made some dreadful life decisions, but how do I get back into the mainstream of life and good standing with the church?”
For too long my question hung in an awkward silence. The priest’s eyes meticulously surveyed mine and then he said, “I know of you.” [Not a great opening, I thought!] “For you, there is no way back. You’re going to hell.”
Those final words abruptly ended our conversation. So, I stood up (he did not), and I walked out of his office. Strolling through the church sanctuary, I paused for a moment before the Crucifix towering over the altar. . . then made my way to the parking lot. While contemplating my fate, a message thundered through my heart and mind. “You have just heard the wrong answer. Now go find the right one.”
Father Ulrich painted me that day as a hopeless loser . . . a victim trapped by my own choices and blunders, not a life learner that could appeal to God’s grace and forgiveness. From what antiquated school of religious dogma did he draw his conclusions? Certainly not from God’s Word!
The apostle Paul also saw it differently. If we are committed to life change and transformation, there’s always a way back through God’s grace and his “good, pleasing, and perfect will.” That leads to new beginnings in life, even when the circumstances are overwhelming. Romans 12:2 tells us we can become something we’re not, something new we were divinely created to be. That’s the encouraging “good news” . . . and a far cry from Ulrich’s ultimatum.
Keep in mind that faith and hope are the antidotes of despair. They’re also the signature of a life learner . . . and the validated truth of the Metamorphyx Journey.
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