Learn from the ultimate expert (know God)

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For through me your days will be many, and years will be added to your life.” (Proverbs 9:10 – 11)

The first lesson I think we need to learn in order to run well and steadily the marathon courses God has each of us on is to learn how to run. Learning is quite exalted in all the cultures we’ve lived among (U.S., Australia, Russia) – for example, in each place, earning a university degree is held in high esteem both personally and professionally. I am all about books and learning – my mother was a librarian and my father was a professor, and I gladly embraced the plethora of learning experiences that regularly came my way. I practically grew up in libraries and laboratories. I literally read encyclopedias and dictionaries for fun. But the Bible tells us that wisdom is the thing we should strive for, not just more information. I’m appreciating that more and more as our information age continues to explode. There are so many things I wish I didn’t know – information I’ve learned that I wish I could unlearn (e.g. voyeuristic news stories containing gory details of someone’s sin with no redemptive purpose in the telling of it).

So how do we learn how to run? We can read books about the Christian life; we can listen to sermons and testimonies; we can attend conferences; we can discuss things live or online; and all these things can be beneficial . . . but if that is all we do, it’s like eating the appetizers and missing the main course; it’s like watching the previews and missing the movie; it’s like climbing the mountain and missing the view; it’s like learning the drills and missing the game! The most important thing we need is to learn from the ultimate expert, God Himself. We need to know Him in order to gain understanding. We need to know what He is like, which results in a healthy fear or reverence of Him, in order to gain wisdom. We know Him by spending time with Him in prayer (conversation) and in reading His word (the Bible). We know what He is like by studying His word. We gain understanding through being in close and authentic relationships with others who are seeking God with passion and serving others together. Without wisdom and understanding, our lives will fall far short of the beautiful plans that God has for each of us. Proverbs 9:11 in The Message says, “It’s through me, Lady Wisdom, that your life deepens, and the years of your life ripen.”

Knowing God. What a beautiful privilege to be invited into an intimate and ever-deepening relationship with our Creator, the One Who Sees Us, the Savior and Lover of our souls. Just as we seek God because He is worthy to be sought, let us know God because He is worthy to be known.

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Home schooling – a series of marathons

Over the years, the Lord has taught me many things about how to “run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1). A lot of these lessons were come by the hard way, by living them out and learning as I went, often as a result of making mistakes. Others were gleaned from mentors in the body of Christ, whether friends, authors, or teachers. Others were gracelets dropped from heaven for no apparent reason other than the Father’s great love. But I treasure each lesson learned and want to freely give what I have received.

Thinking about Hebrews 12:1, for some of us, the word “run” stands out, and we approach everything we do as something to conquer as quickly as we can. For others of us, the word “race” stands out, and we do whatever we can to achieve superiority amidst a field of competitors. For others, the phrase “marked out” stands out, and we seek the precise formula that will get us to where we’re supposed to go. As long as they’re not taken to extremes, each of these facets of living the Christian life is necessary and important. We definitely need to consider each one and integrate them in a balanced way into the way we live.

But I think a word many of us skip over is “perseverance” – defined as “steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.” The reality is that the race that God has marked out for us is not the sprint that we often wish it was, learning simple lessons at record speed, getting it over and done with in plenty of time for morning tea! Our race more closely resembles a marathon, or these days, an ultra-marathon – something that the vast majority of us wouldn’t even consider being within our reach, let alone something we would cheerfully set out to do in our right minds (with apologies to my marathon-running friends who are definitely in their right minds and cheerful as they do this astounding feat on a regular basis 😊). About 16 years ago, I interviewed one of my favorite marathon runners, a.k.a. my friend and former pastor Johnny, and developed some principles we can live by in order to run our races well. Over the coming months, I want to share what I’ve learned with you, and hopefully we will spur one another on in the process. May each of us run with steady persistence the course that God has hand-designed for each of us, especially in spite of the inevitable difficulties, obstacles, and discouragements that will crop up along the way! To God be all the glory in our lives!

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