Because life is a series of edits

Dear Giving Friends

In Thought on July 10, 2006 at 12:25 pm

It’s a new day.

To illustrate, here’s an email Learner just sent out to those friends and family who have financially supported him and Mrs. Learner through their first year of seminary. (Whether or not it was really necessary to email his supporters he says he’ll never know, but he did say it eased his conscience a bit in sending it, so he’s glad he did.)

Anyway, the letter:

Dear Giving Friends,

Gather ’round for the story of a boy still learning about his own limitations. It’s hardly tragic (actually, it’s more comedic if you think about it, though it didn’t seem so a few days ago). Regardless, it goes something like this:

Once upon a time, there was a boy named Learner. After a successful academic first year at semninary, Learner enrolled in Hebrew class for the summer. Having conquered (okay, “survived”) Greek, how hard could Hebrew be, really?

Well, he just found out. After going strong through the first three weeks, Learner somehow failed the first exam (as well as the three subsequent quizzes afterward). As a result of this unfortunate turn of events, the boy’s fairy tale of breezing through Hebrew this summer is, well, still a fairy tale (though, as in the best fairy tales), not all is lost. There is hope.

Thankfully, the seminary was most gracious in allowing Learner to audit the class the rest of the summer and reenroll in the fall – all at no extra charge. Gone is the weeping and gnashing of teeth of last week (thought not the vocab cards, as the plan is to stay up with the rest of the class on those through the summer). Who says there are no more happy endings?

Okay, story time’s over. And now a word to our sponsors…

While it’s disappointing (and embarrassing), Mrs. Learner and I felt it important to let you, our donors, know of this little development/hitch-in-our-git-a-long this summer. Despite honest effort, a good professor, and a fair understanding of what was going on in class, I’ve had a rough time regurgitating on paper what I’ve been learning. As a result, I’ve had to switch my class status to “audit,” continuing to attend class and study this summer and retake it for credit in the fall.

If you know me well at all, you know this has been a little hard for me to swallow, largely because of an overblown sense of self-sufficiency and a history that, by God’s grace, has tended to be more filled with success than failure. But I’m learning that I have limits, and Hebrew has helped in making the case. The irony, of course, is that two weeks before having to pull out of the class, I taught a two-week Sunday School series called “Learning About Limits.” While the series went well and was helpful to many, it seems I still have a few more things to learn personally about coming to grips with my own limitations. And that’s humbling.

One good thing that’s come out of this is that I think I’ve figured out one of my spiritual gifts is definitely not tongues. I had my suspicions with Greek, but I’d say Hebrew has confirmed this for me. And that’s good to know – a positive thing.

Rest assured, there’s still plenty God is doing that we’re giving ourselves to here. In fact, my Pastoral Theology class (a 12-day intensive) starts three weeks from today, for which I have to finish reading five books (writing reflection papers on each), and begin writing a ten-page paper on “whatever aspect of your understanding, personality or character you consider might be most problematic for a diligent and faithful ministry.”

Hmmm. It would seem my experience with Hebrew might make for a good opening illustration of what I think I’ll be writing on, namely, the idealism of my own self-sufficiency and dependence instead of on the gospel and person of Jesus.

In John 3:30, John the Baptist says, “He must become greater, I must become less.” If you pray, pray that this truth would continue to become more and more a reality in my life. I’m guessing that this – and not whether I can parse a Hebrew verb – is really what this lesson and experience with Hebrew this summer is about.

Sorry to take up your time with this long email, but we felt it important to write and send because of your commitment to and involvement with us and our ministry here. We now return you to your regularly scheduled life.


Learner (for Mrs. Learner)

Hebrew tonight (sans quiz). Learner’s actually looking forward to it.

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