Friday, June 19, 2020

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
    I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. —Psalm 32:8

Several months ago, Dan introduced me to a website called Skillshare, which I only checked out in earnest once we all had to stay at home. Skillshare is an online learning community where artists offer classes on whatever creative thing they’re equipped to teach. I’ve always liked dabbling artistically, but in adulthood, I’ve felt mostly ill-equipped, under-developed, and uncertain how to grow, so I’ve entered into these courses with both eagerness and trepidation. A week ago, I did a beginners’ course on how to use Procreate, a digital illustration app. Beyond my expectations, this course was pure enjoyment. It was one of those rare and wonderful occasions where you just want to soak up all there is to learn, where hours pass in an instant. I’m far from being an expert (really, really far!), but it feels good to know how to do some things I didn’t know how to do a couple of weeks ago. What made this a powerful learning experience mostly came down to the instructor: 1) she understood my position as a beginner, and 2) she invited me to learn by imitating what she did.

These verses from Psalm 32 are about God’s instruction. They remind us of God’s teaching style:

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
    I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
Do not be like the horse or the mule,
    which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle
    or they will not come to you. (Psalm 32:8-9)

Look at that stark and beautiful contrast! God’s instruction isn’t forceful, controlling, or manipulative; God’s instruction guides, counsels, and watches over. God works with us patiently, leading us through an ongoing process that leaves us changed.

And because of Jesus, we have a teacher who 1) understands our position as humans, and 2) invites us to learn through imitation. When we observe our teacher and try doing what he did, we are changed for the better. As time passes, we can say we know some things we didn’t know before.

Paul captures it well in Ephesians 5:1. He encourages us to learn through imitation when he says, “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” 

Today, may you have the humility of a beginner who’s ready to learn from a good instructor who guides, counsels, and watches over you. May you observe how Jesus loves, and learn through imitation of him. May you take joy in your process of growth, trusting that your Heavenly Father does, too!

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