I remember years ago – more years than I care to admit – when I graduated from high school, and I said I’d NEVER go back to school again! I was happy to be done and like many teenagers, could not see beyond the immediate. I had a dream to study at Dominican College of San Rafael, California. In those days, Dominican was an all girls college. My parents did not think I should go from an all-girls high school to an all-girls college. At that, and at seventeen years of age, I made the regrettable decision that I would not go to college.
Of course, I did go to college later, though not to Dominican – which a few years later became a co-ed college. The point is that I still viewed study and school as a burden. Though I’ve never had a lot of difficulty with school, as in making good grades, I saw it as a burden – a chore that had to be endured. So, when I completed my undergraduate studies, I once again said that I’d never go back to school!
I got a good job, was blessed with a fair amount of success and life was good. In the middle of all of this, God called me to go to seminary! I actually argued with Him for about a year and a half, thinking that I wasn’t smart enough for graduate school, let alone holy enough for seminary – and besides, I had vowed to never go back to school!
God, however, showed me that His will is supreme – so I trusted Him and I enrolled in seminary. I studied harder than I had ever studied before and finished on time and was ordained to the PCUSA denomination. Once again, life was good – actually, better than it had ever been. I learned that being in the center of God’s will is the safest, most joyful place to be. And, once again, I vowed that I was now finally done with school!
I learned many important things in my first year in ordained ministry. One of the most important things I learned was that God calls each of us to be life-long learners. Much of what we learn is learned in the classroom of living and interacting with the world around us and with the people God places in our lives.
Due to the calling on my life as a pastor and years of doing a lot of pastoral counseling, it soon became evident to me that I needed to have more education in the area of Christian counseling. By this time, I had learned the lesson of the blessing and obligation of life-long “continuing education.” So, when I had the opportunity to go back and work on a doctoral degree, I happily enrolled.
So, why am I telling you all this? Well, It is that season of the year when education and school is upon us once again. It is autumn – even though the heat of the Houston weather feels like it’s still summer. It is the time of year when school is starting at all the levels of the educational journeys we travel in this life – pre-school, grade school, high school, college, graduate school, and the school of living.
I share this because I hope to help others see what took me way too long to see – that learning is a blessing! Learning is something we do always, from the moment we are born to the day we leave this world. The opportunity to go to school is a joy, a blessing, a priviledge and, yes, at imes, a burden that requires effort and discipline, patience and structure.
As we moan at the school buses that slow our commutes down, as we struggle to adjust to the new school year, as we shop for new school clothes, books and supplies, as we help those in school to get back to the routine of study and learning, it is helpful to be grateful. Gratitude for the opportunity to learn and become all that God created us all to be – this is our joyful response to God’s gift of intellect.
Whether you are a student in school, college, a graduate program, seminary or a student in the classroom of living, I pray that you can rejoice in all that God wants you to learn in this life. It doesn’t matter what your age, God still has plans for your life – and it includes learning and growing – in your walk with Him and in your knowledge of Him.
So, from one who has made the commitment to be a lifetime student, let me be one of the first to wish you a joyful and wonderful new season of learning – for the rest of your life! Blessings,