Monday, November 25, 2013

lessons from the school of hard knocks

When life's journey takes you into the desert, it can seem like "real life" is on hold, waiting for problems to be resolved, waiting for questions to be answered, waiting for momentum to return. But desert seasons are where some of God's most important work gets done—inside us. This morning I read reflection #171 from Charles Ringma's profound devotional, Dare to Journey with Henri Nouwen. Time after time, this book has spoken life to my soul. Today I simply must share the whole reflection with you, because it captures so well the idea that the desert is God's classroom:

   "Much of life is spent preparing for and gaining knowledge for future roles and tasks. And many of our educational strategies are based on the premise of learning first in order that we may do later. For some, this has resulted in much learning but little doing. For others, it has meant quite a deal of unlearning once they have experienced the real world."
   "Yet it should be obvious that many things are learned by doing. One learns to pray by praying, to serve by serving, and to love by loving...."
   "Nouwen hints at this. He writes, 'The great illusion of leadership is to think that a person can be led out of the desert by someone who has never been there.' No only can we not look to spiritual guides who lack life's difficult experiences or who have failed to make sense of them or acknowledge them, but we also need to walk our own desert experiences and learn from them."
   "Because spirituality does not embrace only an aspect of life, but all of it, all of life's experiences become the testing ground for linking faith and practice. Thus, in being, living, doing, praying, serving, risking, loving, and participating, we are weaving a pattern for understanding our spirituality."
The school of hard knocks may not be your choice of a classroom. It's not mine, either. But the lessons we learn in the desert classroom cannot be gained anywhere else.

Show me your ways, LORD; Teach me your paths. Psalm 25:4

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