Learning and Relearning

God's curriculum for sanctification is wonderfully made.

Genesis 29:13-20 (ESV)

As soon as Laban heard the news about Jacob, his sister's son, he ran to meet him and embraced him and kissed him and brought him to his house. Jacob told Laban all these things, and Laban said to him, “Surely you are my bone and my flesh!” And he stayed with him a month.

Then Laban said to Jacob, “Because you are my kinsman, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?” Now Laban had two daughters. The name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah's eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful in form and appearance. Jacob loved Rachel. And he said, “I will serve you seven years for your younger daughter Rachel.” Laban said, “It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to any other man; stay with me.” So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.

Thus begins one of the greatest love stories of all time. Jacob comes here to find a wife, and hits the jackpot. He’s experiencing total brain-melt. This completes Lesson #2 in Jacob’s theology schooling – God is great and God is good.*

Meanwhile, Jacob’s education goes through a curiously useful phase – forgetting. For seven years, Jacob is thinking about Rachel and not about God. By rediscovering God later, he will have a “second conversion.” As is often the case, that will be intense.

CS Lewis illustrates this in Screwtape Letter XIII, where the main character has an experience described as “repentance and renewal.” Lewis notes that, “It amounts to a second conversion - and probably on a deeper level than the first.

Educators know that the second time someone learns something is often when they really get it. When Jacob “rediscovers” God, the lesson will feel fresh even though the concepts are familiar.

That will help it penetrate deeper.

*Lesson #1 was the retroactive loss of privacy (God is omniscient and omnipresent).

The Bible is so rich, and its lessons so deep, that we can read it over and over and learn new things every time. That’s why a daily quiet time makes sense. It’s takes over a decade to go through the whole Bible at the pace these DEEPs go at, but by then you’ll be ready to start over with different eyes.

That’s a wonderful path to sanctification. Praise God that something so painless is also so good. Jacob won’t always be so lucky; he’s going to have a permanent hip injury plus a ton of emotional pain. If you’re “in between” painful educational stages, thank the LORD and stay on course.

Jesus promised us persecution and trials, not quiet times. When you get a break and have some time to just study, treasure those times and make the most of them.

You need to get ready for the next trial.

The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.