“What can you teach me?” That question, delivered in a confrontational way, was asked of several of us senior advisors by a young man of 18. The sadness was that, like I was some decades ago, this young man and his several friends with him during this time of discussion was filled with an arrogance that is rather frightening.
One of the more brilliant theologians of our time is Stanley Hauerwas. He is a Texan with what he admits is a Texas mentality about things (Texans are, apparently, not impressed with many things as they grow them big there). He remarked, “being a Christian has not and does not come naturally or easy for me. I take that to be a good thing because I am sure that to be a Christian requires training that lasts a lifetime.”
I really love baseball and once upon a time I was decent at the game. But today I see the talent out there and realize despite a youthful dream of playing for the White Sox some day, and the more youthful dream of thinking I was more than adequately skilled for that task (the Sox missed the opportunity to draft me right out of high school and put me on the major league roster, their loss!), it was my illusion that I was anything other than a raw talent needing some more training (molding) to even get to the place where my talent was something to be considered baseball ready – that is having skills sufficient to sustain me through a productive career.
After our circle time on Monday on the way home a few of us had another mini circle. We talked about prayer, and in particular, why pray if God already knows what He will be doing in our lives (another somewhat heavy idea that needs some time to think about but another day on that one). We talked about an idea that maybe prayer is more about us – the shaping of our minds to understand, however dimly we really can, God’s purpose for us for this moment and for laying a foundation for down the road. Maybe it really is about being trained to see things a bit more clearly than we are at the moment. And that is training that will sustain me for the lifetime He has given me.
We talked a bit about Abraham and Isaac and the time when Abraham was called upon to sacrifice his son – the son given as a promise – and how some ask why was God putting Abraham to such a test (the story is in Genesis 22). I thought maybe it was the other way around. Maybe God was seeking to have Abraham come to a better understanding of the depth of his faith in God, and how coming to that place of understanding was critical for Abraham for the rest of his life in serving God.
So back to our young men. Maybe there is great danger in being people who have all the answers – particularly where there is no responsibility when offering out those answers to people asking questions. Maybe saying, as I have heard it said, that the disaster that can come about isn’t just on the asker who listened, but also rests on the one giving the less than reflective opinion. Maybe it is all about being trained and taught to see, think, pray and live out our lives as though Jesus was, is and is to come.
Be blessed and be a blessing.