The Buddha said, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” Well, ready or not kids, your teachers are showing up in classrooms everywhere. It’s time to crack open the books, slip the surly bonds of summer, and head back to school.
My counsel is to stay in school as long as you can; not to avoid the employment line or devour your parents’ purse but to learn all you can, and to learn to become a learner. For when you stop learning, the proverb goes, you’ve stopped living.
This applies even to those who have the parchment hanging on the wall, those in well-established careers, and to those who haven’t set foot onto a schoolyard in decades. We are always in school, or at least we should be, and those who feel they have matriculated to the point, in life or faith, where we think we know it all, or at least we know enough, we haven’t graduated. We have quit.
When we refuse to learn anything more, we become fixated, immature masters of minutia, nothing more, and life grows incredibly small—looking like old men and women stuffed into preschoolers’ chairs. Mystery is murdered, discoveries dry up, and gone is the joy and excitement of new, daily revelation.
How many treasures are forfeited by those who “know that they know what they know,” but they have learned nothing new in decades? Their minds and hearts are as closed as a freshman’s Algebra book. In the words of Russian giant Leo Tolstoy, “Even the strongest current of water cannot add a drop to a cup which is already full.”
Maybe the always returning school year is an act of redemption, really, for we get another chance to learn our lessons; to take the same course, again and again if necessary, so we can get it right; to pick up the material that we have not yet mastered or refused to heed, and to go deeper.
Still, I suppose that every student, from the Kindergartener beginning to read to the old man learning new tricks, feels like he is being crushed by the repetition of the classroom. But God’s classroom isn’t a form of punishment. The lessons must be learned for our own maturation and well-being and the Teacher knows this. He is giving us every opportunity to succeed—if only we will.
Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, pastor, and author. His newest book is “The Gospel According to Waffle House.” You can read more at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.