Sunday, October 11, 2009

Education verses God

I've been having some pleasant discussions with my dad in the last year or so. I've explained to him some of the things I am interested in, and I'm surprised to report this, but, he gets it. In fact it appears to me that I must have gotten this way of assessing situations from him, because as I tell him things I am thinking, he's thinking right alongside me in the way that I would do it. Cool. He's even told me some amazing stories of how he has used his intelligence for serving others. Some he's told me not to publish, and that's not an issue of course. But some are just dang cool. Like how he attended the national conference for the FBI and he was asked to stand in recognition amongst hundreds for the framework he created post 9/11. I never knew that.

There's lots of stuff I never knew about my dad. I'm really only beginning to hear about them. He's finally moved home, and I'm an adult. He never shared them before. He wouldn't do that, and I see why now. It would only overwhelm me as a teen, as if I could never measure up. That was a wise kindness I can see looking back. Instead, he tells me things recently like "You can do anything you decide to do." "You are a woman but that has no bearing on your ability." He really believes these things, and I, well, I know I'm at least blessed to hear them, even if I am not sure if I should believe them entirely. I am his firstborn of two daughters; no sons, but he'd tell me gender is irrelevant to potential. I'm certain I'm not as smart as he's telling me.

As we smile and laugh along because we are both discovering that we approach problems in exactly the same fashion, he says something I haven't heard in a long, long time. With a pang he says,

"You could have gone to school...."
I did go to school and graduate at Oregon State. But that's not what he means by "going to school." He means an Ivy League like where he went; Wharton (ranked #1) and the University of Pennsylvania (ranked #4). Little does he know that "going to school" is the very thing that God has been putting in my heart... lately. Instead of agreeing, I still cringe. Why? His idealism of school has always driven me to an oppositional idealism.

When I was 12 he started telling me how important it was to be ambitious and achieve my own Ph.D. He made me read and give speeches every day of my life and read college textbooks. My grades were decent, but the attitude behind the GPA was deteriorating.

"Don't befriend people outside your race."

"If you get an A, that doesn't mean you learned anything in my eyes."

"There's not much chance a Ph.D. student is going to lower themselves to marry someone with just a master's."

"You can't spend any time with others because your grades aren't good enough."

"After-school clubs are for successful students who are getting straight As."

"The kind of people who live around here aren't of any positive influence on you."

Where was the meaning? Where was the purpose. It was so empty of life. I hated school. It did not define who I was or measure my value as a person. These things were obvious to me, but, my father couldn't understand. I decided as soon as I left home, my number one ambition was to forever dwell among people who valued people. As if all people are inherently priced at an inestimable value, regardless how unschooled they might be.

God was softening my heart, I can see looking back. This was the circumstance that humbled me to listen to Christianity, and receive Jesus by believing upon Him through hearing the gospel. I wondered about this God who demonstrated relationship based on the sacrificed blood of the Savior.

The first thing I read in the new testament beyond the gospels was 1 Corinthians, beginning in chapter one.

It said,

For it is written:

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”

Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

I became God's that day. He wrote this especially for me, to confirm the journey we'd already begun. I was officially through with courting the wise. He was telling me in this passage that it was fully right to continue to value God so highly that it could, should, cost me what the world thinks should be learned to become significant.

For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.
"It's okay, child. Come, follow me... and participate in the wisdom that no man can deny because it is Mine."

I haven't looked back since. The blessings have been real. I've have no regret in the absence of continued education... till this year. Do I really want to go to school? It's so not me. It speaks many "wrong" things to me that I could have sworn 1 Cor 1 taught me ten years back. I don't even know for what I would take seminary classes. God is not showing me that.

I am afraid of my heart. What if, while enjoying learning, I oust God's values? What if somehow it becomes more important to me than people? But "He keeps my foot from slipping." I know what kind of God it is that saved me and called me, who will also keep me. He is the Savior who could have ascended, dressed in royal robes, to sit on the throne, but did the opposite. He came as a mere man, and just gave his time. He sat in dirt and listened to the sorts of things other people really wanted to talk to Him about. His comfort was to dwell with the ones who knew they knew nothing. Jesus' ministry was paramount, successful, and the glory of God spread.

Rather surprisingly this describes not only the way of the Savior, but it sounds a lot like my dad's ways as well. Hmpf. The LORD is trying to open my eyes.

Thank you LORD for reminding me through these times that your ultimate interest is in people, not idealism or intellectualism. Not only are you confirming 1 Corinthians 1, but you are showing me that I should not stray to serve your values as if I were an idealist or intellectualist. Let me remember how significant the people of this world are for you, that you came and gave everything just to initiate restoration. Even when I think I know what is in lack with another person, your value of them denies me the full exercise of my provisional understandings.

LORD your greatest preference is to use those who are nothing, and God, you are everything.


goe said...

I really enjoyed reading this Michele. I just keep learning more interesting things about you all the time.


Rose~ said...

You ARE a very interesting person, Michele. I do hope you are well.

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