Last week we celebrated Epiphany. The definition of epiphany, according to Merriam-Webster, is "a moment in which you suddenly see or understand something in a new or very clear way." When is the last time you had an epiphany? Do you think they're important?
If an epiphany is an experience that leads to new levels of understanding, I think many of us would say we find epiphanies to be helpful. I don't know about you, but I often feel like I can deal better with something difficult if I understand the reason why it's necessary or an explanation as to why it might be happening. For example, if one of my children seems to be extra-sensitive and emotional on a particular day, I find I have more patience if I understand the fact that this child was up multiple times the night before and is likely more sleep-deprived than usual.
Having an understanding of what is happening when we are facing difficult situations makes a huge difference. Of course many times, this understanding doesn't come until we reflect back on a past experience, but even then it has a way of bringing life and hope to our souls. Ah, so THAT'S why none of my students answered those questions correctly - now that I understand that I made my questions too broad and not specific enough.
The gift of understanding is a game changer for our own personal growth, and it can also strengthen our relationships. Think about how much easier it is to get people to cooperate with you when you are able to communicate your needs or wishes in a way they understand. Going back to parenting, if my child understands that this yucky medicine is going to help his body get rid of the allergic reaction he is having, it will make it significantly easier for him to willingly take it.
There's something else about understanding though. As much as we desire epiphanies, I realized recently that there is a part of me that sometimes isn't so sure about gaining understanding. I suppose it has to do with the responsibility I assume might come along with a new bit of understanding. I recall a page in my "Daily Splashes of Joy" book by Barbara Johnson where she said, "When bad news approaches, flash this sign..." and then there was a simple square with the words "I DON'T WANNA KNOW!"
Isn't that true sometimes? That it might be easier if we didn't know? Because once we know, then we're responsible. Once we understand, then we might feel compelled to change or do something. And wouldn't it be easier if we just kept things the way they were? It's not perfect, but it's what we're used to.
I wonder if our students sometimes feel this way about learning. Maybe for some, the fear of what will be required of them once they understand keeps them from trying. Or for others, maybe they would give anything for understanding to come as easily to them as it seemingly does for their classmates.
What about you? Are you eagerly pursuing understanding in all areas of your life? Or maybe some more than others? We learn from the book of Proverbs that "the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding." (Proverbs 2:6). At the same time, the writer gives the advice: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding..." (Proverbs 3:5)
The understanding we truly need comes from God, and we are called both to seek after it and also to trust God when it doesn't seem to come. One other thing about understanding is that it seems like it most often comes when we make space for things like quiet reflection and stillness - things that are not really built into our current culture. Often it feels like we don't have time to stop or think or pray... but what if stopping, thinking and praying is the only way to put ourselves in a position to understand whatever it is we need to understand?
May we not shrink back from taking the time to try to understand but rather be bold enough to stop, think, pray and invite God to enlighten us with understanding - and teach our children and students to do the same. May we be people who are continually growing in our understanding of God, His Kingdom and our part within it.
Pray with me...
... Lord, may all of us in the ACSD community look to You for the wisdom and understanding we need
Indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. Proverbs 2:3-5
... Father, use each of us impart wisdom and understanding to one another in love as You see fit
If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
... God, may we be faithful to apply the understanding we gain in ways that build Your kingdom
All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Philippians 3:15
Above: our dining room table, decorated by my husband for Epiphany, the season when we celebrate not just the coming of the Magi but also the revelation of Jesus and His mission to bring good news to all nations. Our family learned that the colors of this season are white with many other accenting colors representing the Kingdom life Jesus brings into the world.
Thanks for taking the time to read this blog and pray for Alliance Christian School District! Lord willing, I plan to publish a new blog post weekly on Wednesdays throughout the school year. Feel free to subscribe (at the bottom of this page) if you'd like to be notified each time a new blog post has been published. We also have a prayer team that is always open for new pray-ers to join. If you'd like to learn more, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
~ Carrie Warner, ACSD Prayer Team Coordinator
Soli Deo Gloria To God alone be the glory