Everything I know, I’ve learned in 50 years.
Does that mean I’m a slow learner? I mean, I heard about a guy who learned everything he needed to know in kindergarten and even wrote a 200+ page book about it. I haven’t read the book, and just maybe that guy took kindergarten to a whole new level, but I think I’ll take what I’ve learned since birth. My kindergarten experience wasn’t completely pleasant maybe because my teacher, Mrs. Jarnigan, stashed me in the storage closet for throwing a fit when I wanted to go home early with my mama who was at school for some activity, which could explain why I almost panicked nine years ago when an unsuspecting radiology tech slid me into The Tube for my first MRI and until that moment, neither of us knew I was even moderately claustrophobic.
So here I am at 50, apparently having never learned proper sentence construction, in my 28th year of marriage to Mr. Fix-It (the man who granted me my MRS degree right after college and looked quite sickly about it in the wedding photos), the mother of seven children, in my 15th year of teaching our kids at home, and still moderately claustrophobic. I have experienced many “educational opportunities” over the years!
As for my spiritual “education”, here’s a glimpse: I became a Christian at about age nine when a busload of Alabama college kids came to our rural Missouri town to teach Vacation Bible School and Jesus introduced Himself to me in a forever sort of way. However, if I would have been His sole witness until my early 20s, there wouldn’t have been a new Christian anywhere on the planet thanks to my self-justified say-one-thing-and-do-another lifestyle. Even so, He never once left me. Because He was not willing to let me go, I have come to truly know Him and desire to honor Him with all that I am. It took a whole lot of sin on my part and a whole lot of forgiveness on His to get me where I am with Him today, but oh, how thankful I am for His second chances that are actually a continual chance called grace.
What have I learned in 50 years? This list isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a start. Perhaps this kind of list doesn’t even have an ending…
1. Jesus loves me, this I know. Yes, I sang this song as a child (probably even at my public school), but I never really thought about what the words meant until well into my adulthood. And Jesus is still singing this to me. You know, in the first person: I love you, this you know, for the Bible tells you so…
2. Promise not to laugh at this one. Promise? OK, here it is. I was in my 20s (yes, 20s, not 2s) before my brain made the connection between Baby Jesus in the manger and the Jesus who walked around on the earth and the Jesus who orchestrated His own crucifixion and resurrection. I remember one day it just hit me: Wow, that kid grew up and became a man and hey, that’s the same guy! I am not sure if this revelation speaks more to my mental capabilities than my spiritual growth, but it is what it is. And now I feel so much more knowledgeable when I watch Christmas and Easter programs.
3. People need grace from me because I need so much grace from my Lord. My mom’s marriage advice to me was, “Always assume they (husbands) are doing the best they know how.” That is what it looks like to extend grace, and it should apply to all our relationships. No one deserves grace – that’s what makes it grace. But everyone needs it.
4. The more I seek the Lord, the more He lets Himself be known. And the more I know of Him, the more I want to know. He tells me in Psalm 81:10, “Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.” I guess in this case, it does pay to have a big mouth…figuratively speaking, of course. If the God of the universe wants to give me something, I never want to tell Him, “No thanks.” However, every time I feel Him prodding me to read His Word or pray and I choose a different activity, I declare to Him that very thing. May it never be again!
5. The final entry on today’s list of lessons I’ve learned is that cookie dough is not as sickness-inducing as the civilized world has been led to believe. I don’t know who is responsible for convincing all but the bravest among us that its buttery, sugary, chocolate chippy goodness should not be consumed, but I am a witness to cookie dough’s relative safety–if frequency and volume of consumption mean anything. Small print: I am not a doctor, scientist, statistician, professional cook, expert on foodbourne illnesses, nor someone you should sue if you eat cookie dough and become ill. My name is Janice, and I am a cookie dough addict. That is all.
6. Since number five wasn’t very serious (except to all those in my support group), I decided to add one more item to today’s list. Another lesson I have learned is that God can use a crooked stick to accomplish His purposes. He takes that crooked stick and supernaturally smooths it, straightens it, and hones it into a tool useable for His Kingdom. I know this because He picked up this crooked stick called me and has been lovingly honing me in His capable hands for an entire half-century.
Considering how quickly these 50 years have passed, maybe I’m a fast learner after all.
Janice Powell 2013