I have been writing devotions and now this blog for nearly 25 years. I wonder sometimes if readers consider me arrogant or pompous because I tend to write to instruct and correct. I want it to be encouraging, in the same way a child often looks back on a parent’s counsel or command, the wisdom of which grows as the child ages and reflects. So often, we look back at our parents’ (or some other adult’s) counsel or discipline with gratitude, when at the time it was given, we may have despised or ridiculed it. With adult eyes, we come to understand their wisdom, which we failed to see as a child or young adult.
This has always been my perspective as I write. Wisdom comes from God and our experiences with him. I have been walking with the Lord for nearly 45 years and he has taught me many lessons over that time, and most of them in the midst of my failures and where times have been difficult. Those of you who have read my writing over the years know that I have had my share of suffering, much of it self-inflicted through bad choices or blatant rebellion, and some of it beyond my control.
Early on, I came to this conclusion: If you are going through a very bad experience, you might as well learn something in the process; otherwise, it is just a bad experience. I have applied that axiom throughout my life. So, most of the content of my writing is based on the lessons I have learned through living in this fallen world. Though I may not often explicitly state it, the things about which I write are grounded in my own experience, often through failure.
For example, when I wrote about waiting, what informed my thoughts was my lack of patience and trust in God, particularly regarding romantic relationships, in my early years of following Jesus. I forged ahead and often tried to force things. The results were predictably bad. When I wrote about compassionate truth, the foundation underlying it was my regret that long ago that when I was caught in a sinful pattern, fellow believers failed to tell me the whole truth. They told me I was forgiven and that God loved me; they did not tell me to repent. And my reflections in my post on funerals were based on my relationships with my father and mother, which were often strained, but were made whole through Jesus and the opportunities afforded for reconciliation through their long illnesses.
God uses life and his Word to teach us about himself and ourselves, his glory and our fallenness. They come as cumulative lessons, ideally building one upon another, slowing forging wisdom along the way. This is what I am seeking to share with you, my readers—wisdom gained from failing and suffering over decades of following the Lord, while experiencing his wonderful grace in the midst of it.
When Mary encountered Jesus outside his tomb, she called him “Rabboni” or “Teacher.” That is what he was and is to her, to the disciples, and to all of us. Fallen life is his classroom where he desires to impart lessons that, if we are willing to learn and apply them, will lead us to become who he created us to be.
What is behind my writing is time spent in his classroom and the lessons I’ve learned and am learning. Every successful student experiences his share of failure. That is from which most learning comes. And I have learned a lot from his lessons, of which I gladly share, not out of arrogance, but rather humility mixed with amazement that the Lord can use me at all!
© Jim Musser 2020