Life as a Student
"Teach me your way, O Lord; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors." (v11)
Do you think that you've arrived? Do you tend to think that you've learned what you need to learn and now know what you need to know? Do you see yourself as having more answers than questions? Do your carry around a hunger to know? Do you want to understand more deeply and more fully? Do you have a humble, open, and seeking heart? Are you approaching life with the mentality of a student?
Here is a prayer to be taught. Do you pray this? How often? I think there's much pride of knowing and the accompanying mental lethargy in many of us. There was a time, in the early years of our faith, when we couldn't get enough. We had a voracious hunger for truth and a lively fear of falsehood. We lived with the humbling realization that there was so much that we didn't know. We loved walking through the gallery of God's wisdom, taking in the treasures there. We loved listening to fellow students who were further along the path of wisdom than us. We loved to be pointed to nuggets of wisdom that could have only come from the mouth of the Divine. We loved to study the Word of God; to examine each phrase, comparing Scripture with Scripture. We could not get enough, we were not satisfied, we were students.
But something happened along the way. Perhaps we got distracted by the physical pleasures of the created world and began to live more like tourists than students. Perhaps we got discouraged by the troubles of the world and felt our study was not helping us. Maybe we got sidetracked by our own purposes and plans and had little time left to be students. Or perhaps our hunger was blunted by assessments of arrival. Perhaps we came to think that we knew all that we needed to know.
Yet, there are two reasons that remain to pray this prayer; depth and danger. Why would I pray to be taught again and again and again by the Lord? Because his wisdom is just that deep and vast. His wisdom has no boundary. His wisdom has no bottom. His wisdom has no ceiling. If for 10,000,000 years I would sit for twenty-four hours a day at his feet and listen, I would only scratch the very surface of the wisdom that is his. If I gave every day of my life to study only the wisdom that is captured on the pages of Scripture, I could study until my very last day and not have mined all the treasures of wisdom that's there. So, once more, I pray to be taught because the wisdom of God is just that deep.
I also pray this prayer because I live in a world of danger. It's a world where the sounds of falsehood echo more loudly and repeatedly than the sounds of wisdom. Living in human culture is like sitting in a 20,000 seat arena just before the concert begins. Everyone is talking at once, a den of voices so loud and pervasive you can barely hear yourself think. Every day a thousand voices speak into my life and the vast majority of those voices have not gotten the flowers of their insight from the wisdom garden of the Lord. They tell me who I am. They tell me what life is about. They tell me how to invest my time. They tell me how to use my resources. They tell me how to conduct my relationships. They tell me what is true and untrue. They tell me what my goals should be. They tell me what the good life looks like. They tell me what I should be, and do, and want. They offer me a comprehensive system of wisdom, that's well thought through and that's attractive on many levels, but that competes with the true wisdom that can only come from God. It's so easy to be taken captive. It's so easy to have Divine wisdom corrupted by human wisdom. It's so easy to breathe in the polluted air of a culture that no longer actually thinks that God is, let alone that he is wise.
So, with a lively acknowledgment of the vastness of the depth of God's wisdom and a healthy fear of the germs of falsehood that are everywhere around me, I accept the fact that this side of eternity I live in the middle of a raging wisdom war. So, I pray for the strength, protection, direction, and encouragement that can only be found when I am a student of the Lord. Morning after morning I bow my head and humbly pray, "Lord, please teach me your way."