What Will You Do With What You Learned?

It is graduation season, and whether at church or at high schools or colleges and universities, scores of kids are so excited about graduating. Looking back over our school careers, whether it was 12, 13, 14, 16, or 18 years, it is interesting how little we remember of what we learned. All the study and writing and testing flows into the big reservoir of our education and we may not recall the day we studied a certain part of speech or the day when we had conquered the multiplication tables, but they are there and they go with us for decades into the future.

At a recent graduation I was talking with a long-time professor at a university. The truth is you have to be a sharp cookie to even qualify to get in his classes. Things like Advanced Algebra studies are not open to everybody. Another person in the circle of the conversation asked, “Well, what will they do with what you are teaching them?” The learned professor said, “In every class early on somebody wants to know, ‘Where will I use this in my life?’” To which the professor said he responds, “It will mean absolutely nothing and you will probably never use it.” He said the students are somewhat baffled by that until he goes on to explain, “But what you learn in problem solving and dealing with difficult issues and working through complicated equations will always be a part of your life, in every area and every day.” He was so right on.

As a child goes through the process that 2+2=4 and 2-2=0, he or she is learning a process that will go with them whether they are balancing a check book or helping coach a little league team or evaluating gas prices. At some point along the educational journey is a wonderful place where all the little pieces add up to be the process of life itself. That same approach and reality is a part of our Christian growth and discipleship. Once Jesus becomes Lord of your life, everything large and dramatic or small and almost overlooked becomes part of the discipling experience that is not just a program put on by the church but a wonderful training and transforming event orchestrated by Jesus.

As I look back over the maturing, growing experience of my walk with Jesus, I realize I did not have the input or advantage of being in churches that had a systematic, thoughtful plan for the growth and discipling of people like me. All we had was Sunday school and going to church on Sundays and Wednesdays. For the most part, where I went to church as a youngster had no youth minister or paid minister of music or any staff person who was designated to oversee the educational growth process of all of us. About all we had were meetings for worship, times of study, and supplemental aspects of training like Vacation Bible School, Winter Bible Study, and preparing for Bible Drill. Yet as I look back I realize how much God was at work in a boy and a young man’s life to shape him and focus him on the things of God.

I certainly do not remember every sermon I ever heard, but I cannot forget some pieces of sermons that stirred my heart and pulled me into the throne room of God. I do not remember when I learned the Lord’s Prayer or Psalm 23 or Psalm 100 or exactly when and where I was that I had fixed in my heart and mind the 66 books of the Bible, but they are a part of my life every day. I am thankful for the opportunities and growth plans we have for people today, but long before we came up with our ingenious efforts God was overseeing and undergirding the growth and challenge for His people and He will continue to do so with our efforts now.

The question that leads this article is, What are you doing with what you learned? I suppose sometimes the answer has to be very little, but on the other hand when you begin to understand what God is doing in your life, you might say every day that your life is penetrated by the wonder of the wonders of His word and His presence with you in a way that He has never forsaken you and He forever sustains you.

The author can be contacted at directions@mbcb.org.

Jim Futral
Executive Director-Treasurer