True Learning (4)
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
On You I wait all the day. Psalm 25.5
Teaching as He went
Very little of the teaching Jesus did was in the kind of context in which we normally pursue the work of Christian education. He had no classroom, no chalk board or PowerPoints, and no certificate to offer those who completed His course. Jesus taught His disciples as they walked in the way, amid busy crowds, pointing to everyday situations and things, and challenging them concerning their own thoughts, fears, and desires.
Jesus’ teaching was an ongoing activity; He didn’t just isolate His instruction to scheduled meetings and formal settings. Certainly there was some of that; however, mostly Jesus worked to help His disciples be always alert, always open to His input, and thinking continuously about the applications of His instruction to their daily activities.
Disciples are always learners; so the Lord Jesus was always teaching them.
Thus, not only was Jesus’ teaching of this informal, as-you-are-going nature, so was His disciples’ learning. True learning occurs during everyday life, along the way God has chosen for us, as we are walking in and working our Personal Mission Fields, waiting on the Lord to help us make the most of all the time of our lives.
Learning is validated in life and action, words and deeds. We are always in situations where we can bring to completion or reinforce something we are learning by what we say or do. We will make more progress in true learning if we take up this practice, and if we encourage one another in this practice, which David described as “waiting” on the Lord, in every situation.
A constant vigil
When we’re waiting for someone, we’re practicing a kind of vigil. At any moment we expect those we’re waiting for to show up. We make preparations accordingly, block out distractions, put our diversions on hold, and keep glancing at the clock or out the window to see if our expected guests are about to arrive.
Waiting, in other words, is a very active posture. When we’re waiting, we’re anticipating what will transpire when our guests arrive, planningwhat we might say, thinking about the best ways to please them, and readying our hearts to welcome and serve them.
Something like this should characterize how we enter our everyday lives if we are going to learn the truth of God along the way He has prepared for us, and travel in that way as His friends. We need times of formal instruction from the Lord, beginning in time with Him each day.
But we also need to learn the discipline of waiting on Him throughout the day. By waiting on the Lord, we will be able to apply His Word to the various situations and opportunities of our lives. True learning comes to fruition in the everyday contexts of life. If it does not, then our learning is merely intellectual, and we may be learning and learning more and more all the time, but we will not come to the knowledge of truth until we live it out in the way and along the path God has chosen for us.
Pray without ceasing
How can we improve this critical component of learning?
Waiting on the Lord begins in an attitude of continuous prayer. When Jesus commanded His disciples to go back to Jerusalem and waitfor the promise of the Father, they immediately set up a continuous prayer meeting that lasted for ten days (Acts 1). We wait on the Lord as we set our minds on Him, tune our hearts to beat with His, and maintain open communications with Him in every situation.
As we wait on the Lord, we will engage in what Paul described as prayer without ceasing (1 Thess. 5.17). While we won’t be always talking to the Lord about this, that, or the other, we can always be in communion with Him, ready whenever He speaks to us, and responsive to however He leads.
Jesus is ready to provide mercy and grace to help in all our times of need (Heb. 4.16). And since we need His mercy and grace at all times, maintaining an attitude of prayer and open channels of communion with Him will help to ensure that when our discipleship is on the line in some situation – when we have an opportunity to put into practice that which we have been learning about Jesus – the mercy and grace we need will be available to us without fail.
This ability can be greatly helped by setting aside several times during the day for brief retreats of prayer, in which we draw aside from our daily activities, focus on Jesus Christ exalted at the Father’s right hand, and offer words of praise, thanks, and intercession. We can make these standing appointments at set times of the day, or we can develop the ability of beginning and ending each task or meeting with prayer, if only within our souls.
The more we do this, the more we will carry that attitude of prayer into every waking moment. As that begins to happen, we will find that our hearts and minds are more open to the Lord. We can hear His Spirit guiding us this way and that. We will see opportunities for serving others, which we will want to make the most of as the Lord’s friends. And we will encourage our fellow disciples to practice what they’re learning just as we are.
Every moment, every activity, and every relationship of our lives will begin to seem more like a staging-ground for God’s redeeming grace and truth to flow through us to others as we learn to wait on the Lord throughout the day.
Jesus will teach us in the as-you-are-goings of our lives if we are diligent to wait on Him. True learning will not occur, as David pointed out, until waiting on the Lord becomes the envelope within which we live along the way our God has chosen for us.
1. Would you describe your daily life as “waiting” on the Lord at this time? Why or why not?
2. What do we mean by saying that true learning comes to fruition in daily life? Can you give an example of this in your own experience?
3. Suggest some ways you might begin to improve your practice of waiting on the Lord.
Next steps – Transformation: What will you need to do to begin waiting on the Lord more consciously and consistently throughout the day?
T. M. Moore
Know, Love, Serve
The great thing about following Jesus is the more we learn of Him, the more we love Him; and the more we love Him, the more we will serve Him in every aspect of our lives. This is the argument of our book, Know, Love, Serve. A free copy is waiting for you by clicking here.
Are you a Gospel sponge? You can be, and wouldn’t that clean a few things up nicely? Check out this month’s Personal Mission Field Workshop by clicking here.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.