One of the things that my dear wife Sarah frequently prays is "Lord help me to learn the lesson in the classroom and not on the field trip." She learned this in one of the many great Beth Moore studies that she has attended. What it means is that it is a lot better to learn one of God's lessons from reading the Bible or from it being passed down by a wise Christian person than learning it from experience - especially a lesson that can be painful.
I often think about that prayer and how it applies to me personally. I think of something painful that happened in the past and wish that I had learned the lesson in the classroom and not out in life. I wish that someone had told me and warned me about things before it happened.
Sometimes I'll read things, be talking to someone, or be thinking about my life and God will impress on me that there is a life lesson in what I am reading, hearing or thinking about. God impressed on me recently that maybe it is time for me to be that person that passes down some life experiences to those younger than me. (Ugh! Can I really be getting that old?)
God did that just the other day. There was something that happened on social media that had a life lesson that God told me to tell a specific group of people about. After praying and thinking about it God impressed on me that it should be through this blog. So, I am starting a new series. It won't be weekly but I am praying that it will be regular.
Okay, before I give you the name of this new series I need to tell you the background. For the past few years my family has been blessed to help out at a camp in Canada for one week in the summer. We have grown to love the senior staff, cabin leaders, and support staff. Way back when we first went up we were told that we had to come up with a camp name. It couldn't be our real name, it had to be something else and it usually was something crazy. Some of the camp names other staff had chosen are Mushroom, Samwidge (yes that is spelled correctly) Curly Fry, Cheeko, Squirb, Maximus . . . you get the picture. So, after not much thought, I chose Thumper. I am a very jittery person and never can sit still, so that seemed to fit. So, since this life lesson is for the staff from that camp - a staff that we love dearly - the name of this series is "Life Lessons from Thumper".
Now for the actual life lesson.
A facebook friend of mine posted something the other day. This friend is a strong Christian and I'm sure didn't mean anything by this post. At any other time of life I might have mentioned the same thing. I can be very good at judging people and I'm not talking about judging in a good way. If I don't watch myself and remember to check my spirit, I can be very good at seeing a something and coming to all sorts of conclusions. So, this particular post could have easily something that I wrote. I am going to paraphrase what was said just in case he or someone else that saw the post reads this. So here's the paraphrased post:
- You won't believe what I just saw! Some lady just rode her scooter into the restaurant where I'm eating. She had a carton of cigarettes in her front basket and a case of beer in her back basket. She rolled up to the bar and ordered a margarita!
Like I said, my Facebook friend really isn't a bad person. He was just making a comment on humanity around him. What he didn't know is that lady is my next door neighbor. No, I'm not talking figuratively here. I'm talking literally. I know the exact lady that he is talking about because she actually is my neighbor. Day in and day out as I am sitting on the porch doing devotions. I watch her as she stumbles out of the house and gets on her scooter to run errands. I watch her as she rolls down our street and when she rolls back to her house and I pray for her each time.
Sarah and I have been witnessing to she and her mother since before we even moved into our apartment. We have visited and prayed with them over difficulties, hospital stays, nursing home rehabs and more. We have known what was going on for a long time and they have confided in us. Although we don't agree with how they are handling their life problems, we somewhat know why they do what they do.
We have learned to love our neighbors and the people that we minister to where they are. We learned a long time ago (and still are) that you can never tell on the outside what a person is really going through.
In Mark 12:31 the Bible tells us that the second greatest commandment is to "Love your neighbor as yourself." Your neighbor isn't just the people that live beside you or across the street, it is all people. The folks you work with, the folks you go to school with, the folks you go to church with, the folks that you see and pass on the street every day - all of them are your neighbors. If we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, we need to look past their problems and frailties. We need to remember that life is hard. It's hard for we Christians as well. The only difference is that we have God to help us and the Holy Spirit to guide us.
Instead of looking at the mistakes in people, we need to be looking at them like Christ. Christ sees them - he sees even us - as frail, weak, individuals that he wants to redeem, and make strong with His strength. Unfortunately I am guilty many times of looking at people through eyes of rejection and judgement. I probably would have looked at this lady with those eyes if I wouldn't have known her. I am just as guilty.
Help me to see people through your eyes. Help me not to judge others that I see on the street or that I come into contact with. Help me to love people with your love and remember that everyone is your creature and everyone needs a chance. Maybe that person that I am judging is the exact person that you want me to be a witness to but because of my prejudices I am rejecting. Please help me to love and not judge. Please shine your light through me every day to everyone.