Learning and Retaining

Michala finished her first semester in college with a 4.0 and learned she is actually a sophomore. We are amazed by this sweet, intelligent girl of ours. Michala and Terry together are so funny. He tells her we have a, “Rusty plan.” You see, we tell Michala not to put so much pressure on herself; we only care she does her best. She does not have to maintain a 4.0. But what her sweet Dad tells her is, “I want you to get great grades and a great education so you will get a great job with a great income so you can buy a house with a yard and take Rusty for us.”

That’s the, “Rusty plan.” Every note or card he sends her, he tells her, “Don’t forget the Rusty plan.”

We truly do not care if she has a 4.0.

Our dear, precious 85 year-old friend Mr. Tom, told Michala something so poignant over Christmas break, I wanted to share with you. He said, “A 4.0 is quite impressive and an obvious mark of your hard work and diligence, but I want you to remember something. Learning and retaining the material is as important, if not more so, than the grade you receive.”

I have so much material I need to learn and the more time I spend each day diving into God’s word, I realize as I get older, I do not know nearly as much as I thought I did. I have not learned and retained many lessons I need to learn and retain.

The whole, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” command has been a difficult one for me. The way I want to pray for those who persecute us tends to be more like, “God, if you could just thump them, that would be great. Make them walk so hard into a wall, their personalities change. Shake them so their brains rattle and they do the right thing.”

As hilarious and wonderful as the image in my mind is, I do not think it was what Jesus had in mind when He told us, “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” - Matthew 5:44-45 (NIV)

If Papa graded us on our studies and growth in our faith, I can guarantee you I would not have a 4.0. I am terrified to think what my grade would be.

The good news is, I believe Papa grades us on a curve. A learning curve, that is; because we are all works in progress.

The older I get, the more I realize how much I do not know, and I wake up hungry every single day for more knowledge. Our pastor, Pastor Steve, has a precious prayer he reminds us, “God I want to know you better and love you more.”

The more I read His Word, the more I understand what the Spirit is teaching me, therefore the more I pray for Papa to reveal Himself to me, and the more quiet I become, in my prayers.

My prayer time should not be how a Mafia hit list would read, asking God to “attack” or strike His vengeance on our enemies. Instead, my prayer time needs to be asking Papa to forgive me for my bitterness toward people who have persecuted us, and I need to pray more for those people. I need to pray God puts precious Jesus lovers in their lives to help them turn toward Him. I need to ask God to change and soften my heart, so I stop asking for them to fall down holes or walk into poles. (I told you, I am a work in progress, and I truly am working on a change of heart).

If we want to be the lights shining brightly in this dark world, we will better do so if we focus more on love and less on hate and vengeance.

If Papa were to grade my faith, I would hope my grades improve, and we could implement something similar to the, “Rusty Plan.” I think it would be called the, “Love Others Really Well Plan.”