The Lord is stirring me to be a more fervent learner. This theme kept popping into my line of vision this week.
In a few brief comments introducing a Bach piece on a classical music station, I heard that when Bach was a young man, he walked 250 miles to hear an acclaimed organist perform.
Later, while watching the NCAA women’s basketball championships, another example of choosing to be a learner: The head coach of women’s college basketball team frequently traveled to spend time with the legendary coach John Wooten in California. She said something to the effect, “If you want to be great, you need to be around greatness.”
The church history book I’m reading records of Peter Abelard (1079-1142): “Abelard for the love of learning had given up his inheritance rights to his younger brothers, and roamed France to sit at the feet of the great masters.”
Of one eleventh century scholar it was written: “Olbert was not able to satiate his thirst for study. When he would hear of someone distinguished in the arts he flew there at once, and the more he thirsted the more he absorbed something delightful from each master.”
These challenging examples came one after another, stacking up, leaning in, exerting a delicious pressure, calling me higher. The Lord is answering my prayer: “Please don’t leave me to myself. Keep breaking in on me.”
Once I read that a genius never stands as a solitary mountain peak; geniuses come in mountain ranges. I think of the great artists that lived at the same time (Michelangelo, DaVinci, etc.). I think of the Founding Fathers of our country. They were a mighty mountain range of great minds.
The same truth is relevant for non-geniuses as well. I need the stimulation and insights of others. King Solomon captured this truth concisely: “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).
All these examples challenge me to ask myself some questions:
Is learning a high value for me?
A disciple is a learner. The roots of the word ‘disciple’ rumble with meanings related to learning.
Am I willing to pay a price to learn?
I may never walk 250 miles, but what effort will I make to learn from others?
What direction might my learning take at this point in my life?
Can I identify areas of study to pursue? What’s my plan?
Are there opportunities nearby that I’m overlooking?
Who in my church or community might add significantly to my life? What books on my bookshelf might stimulate my growth in Christ, my worship, my ability to help others?
How might I profit more from the people already in my life? my husband? my children? my pastor? my Bible study group? people outside the church I attend?
Do I ask good questions? Do I ask good follow-up questions? Do I process their answers to understand and develop my own thinking?
Opportunities to learn are all around us. Live the mystery.