Posted by Pastor Stuart

It’s hard to believe that it’s already time to get the first report cards of the school year. At church before the school year began, we collected school supplies and promoted the kids in Sunday School. For the kids in my house, we finished up summer homework with one >:-{ and prepared for Kindergarten with the other 8-O. Lots of things were required to get ready. Did we have all the supplies? Who would the teachers be and where their classrooms? Who needs to pick up whom and at what time every day?

Each year when our boys start school, my wife stands them outside for the requisite first day photo. And each year I feel like singing “Sunrise, Sunset” from Fiddler on the Roof. “Is this the little girl I carried? Is this the little boy at play? I don’t remember growing older. When did they?… Sunrise, sunset. Sunrise, sunset. Swiftly fly the years.” I’m getting something in my eye just thinking about it. How do my little babies change so fast while I stay the same?

I’m always surprised when I go back to visit places I’ve lived and find that the people who used to be kids there, aren’t kids anymore. It’s unsettling. This past summer, a “kid” I taught at church when he was 13 was in Raleigh on business, so we got to see each other for a few minutes. I could hardly believe it was him. Wasn’t he supposed to be in junior high? Nope. Because he’s 30 now. Wow, how old does that make me? I had assumed we both just stayed the same. Wrong.

Actually though, I am changing a little bit this year: I started school too! I enrolled in a new pastor’s degree program and started distanced-based classes just a few days before my kids did. So I had to get ready too. Got a haircut, bought new socks, threw away the socks with holes in them, tried to find cheap copies of the textbooks, wondered if I was too old and tired to go back to school anyway, etc., etc.

And truthfully, even though I feel like, as an adult, I don’t change any year-to-year, I still do. We all do. We’re different people than we were 1 year ago, 5 years ago, and especially 10 years ago. I look back on those earlier times and shake my head at how na├»ve and immature I was. Thank goodness I’ve learned so much since then. But believe it or not, we’ll think the same thing in a few years when we look back on today, because we will all keep learning–about ourselves, about other people, and about God.

If we are paying attention to the world, our place in it, and what God is telling us, then we should always be steadily learning and changing. Last time I checked, none of us had mastered the full knowledge of the universe and its Creator, so there’s still a few things to figure out. What’s more, God has not stopped moving and speaking and working, so we need to pay attention to the ongoing revelations that come with being a God seeker and a Jesus follower. Jesus didn’t stand still, and neither should we.

I heard an author say recently, that when he’s asked, “How can you be married to the same woman for 37 years,” he answers, “I haven’t. She isn’t the same person, and neither am I.” The same goes for us. We’re all changing and growing, learning and realizing–or at least we should be if we’re healthy. (Just as stunted physical growth isn’t good, neither is stunted spiritual growth.) So even if you weren’t a new student in a classroom this year, think of yourself as a continued student of God and people. What do you still need to learn? What forms do you need to practice more? (Patience, forgiveness, joy, compassion, just to name a few possibilities.)

Let’s not assume that our age means we’re done growing. Let’s be attentive students to God’s lessons for us each day. And here’s to great-looking report cards for all of us!

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